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The neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio indexes individual variation in the behavioural stress response of wild roe deer across fluctuating environmental conditions

Abstract : Understanding how wild animals adapt to perturbations and their consequences for life history traits and population dynamics is a current focus of attention in ecology and conservation biology. Here, we analysed variation in the neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (N:L ratio), a proxy of stress level, in wild roe deer Capreolus capreolus from three populations experiencing markedly different environmental conditions. We first assessed whether among-individual differences in the N:L ratio were consistent over time and across environmental contexts. We then investigated how both individual characteristics (behaviour at capture, age, sex, body mass), and environmental context (habitat and year quality) were linked to this indicator of stress level. We found moderate, but consistent, repeatability of the N:L ratio in all three populations, indicating stable among-individual differences in the way individuals cope physiologically with varying environmental conditions. In addition, we found a weak, but consistent, association between the N:L ratio and behaviour at capture in two of the three populations. Finally, the N:L ratio also varied in relation to temporal changes in environmental conditions. In particular, individuals had, on average, higher levels of stress in poor-quality years in two of the three populations. We discuss our results in relation to the coping styles framework.
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Submitted on : Monday, May 25, 2020 - 4:55:42 PM
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Jeffrey Carbillet, Benjamin Rey, Typhaine Lavabre, Yannick Chaval, Joel Merlet, et al.. The neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio indexes individual variation in the behavioural stress response of wild roe deer across fluctuating environmental conditions. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Springer Verlag, 2019, 73 (11), pp.1-13. ⟨10.1007/s00265-019-2755-z⟩. ⟨hal-02619393⟩

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