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The role of parasites and pathogens in the evolution of life history traits is of increasing interest to both ecologists and evolutionary biologists. Immunology, which was once studied almost exclusively by immunologists, has become an important area of proximate investigation to animal physiologists as a means for understanding changes in disease susceptibility and the neural and neuroendocrine mechanisms that mediate these changes. The coalescence of these different perspectives has given rise to the field of ecological immunology, an interdisciplinary research field that examines interactions among host physiology and disease ecology in a wide range of environmentally relevant contexts. The goal of ecological immunology is to understand immune function in the context of life-history traits across a wide range of organisms. Research within the field combines diverse approaches from a wide range of scientific disciplines including evolution, ecology, and life history theory to endocrinology, neuroscience, molecular biology, and behavior.
Ecoimmunology critically reviews recent advances in the discipline of eco-immunology. Chapters are written by experts in their respective fields and cover diverse topics including how environmental factors can affect host immune function, the complex dynamics among host immunity, pathogen prevalence and disease susceptibility, and the physiological mechanisms that lead to adaptive changes in immune responses. By integrating analyses of immune system function within animal biology, investigators will gain will gain a more comprehensive and satisfying understanding of organism-environment interactions at both ultimate and proximate levels of analysis.
1. Introduction to eco-immunology
2. Life history evolution, hormones, and avian immune function
3. Sickness behavior in vertebrates: Allostasis, life-history modulation, and hormonal regulation
4. Amphibian Immunity: Staying in tune with the environment
5. Immunity in primates within a psychosocial and life span perspective
6. Maternal modulation of offspring immune function in vertebrates
7. Tradeoffs limiting MHC heterozygosity
8. The energetics of immunity: Mechanisms of trade-offs in eco-immunology
9. Neuroendocrine mechanisms of seasonal changes in immune function
10. Pineal gland and circulatory melatonin in regulation of immune status of seasonally breeding mammals
11. Environmental challenges and the neuroendocrine mechanisms of stress-induced modulation of host resistance to microbial infection
12. Inflammation and behavior
13. The importance of physiology for ecoimmunlogy: Lessons from the insects
14. Interactions between host social behavior, physiology, and disease susceptibility: the role of social context
15. Sexual selection and parasites: Do mechanisms matter?
16. Sex differences in immune responses to viruses
17. Immunopathology in ecological immunology
18. The evolutionary ecology of infectious disease virulence
19. Evolutionary genetics of infectious disease
Gregory E. Demas is Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior (CISAB) at Indiana University, where he has been for the last 10 years.
Randy J. Nelson holds the Brumbaugh Chair in Brain Research and Teaching at The Ohio State University Medical Center. He is professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience and a member of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine at The Ohio State University Medical Center.