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By the Immunocompetence Handicap Hypothesis (Karter & Folstad, 1992), individuals with good immunity invest in sexually selected characteristics and in doing so forego investing in immunity. The display of sexually selected characteristics is supposed to indicate the individual has good enough immunity to be able to withstand the foregone investment. As a result, these individuals are infected with more parasite species and also greater intensity of infection. My question for someone who knows about parasites and immunity is: It is clear that a handicap against predators (such as a bright, weighty ornament) 1) exposes the individual to predators that would not have otherwise spotted it AND 2) impedes the individual’s ability to evade predators, with death just as likely to come from the predators attracted in 1. What about a handicap against parasites? Does it 1) expose the individual to parasites that would not have otherwise infected it AND 2) impede ability to survive parasites, with death just as likely to come from the parasites in 1? Individuals that handicap against parasites tend to be infected with more species of parasites than otherwise (Habig & Archie, 2015: "Specifically, dominant males almost always experienced higher parasite prevalence, intensity of infection or parasite species richness than subordinate males.") but are these additional species just as likely to kill as the species that would have infected the individual if it didn’t handicap or are the species that would have infected the individual if it didn’t handicap just more dangerous and more likely to kill the individual?

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  • $\begingroup$ Could you possibly rewrite this? It's not very clear to me exactly what you're asking. $\endgroup$ – Nathan Jul 14 '17 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ Can you guide the rewrite by specifying what you're unclear about? $\endgroup$ – sterid Jul 14 '17 at 16:21

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