While avian chronic haemoparasite infections induce reproductive costs, infection has not previously been shown to affect survival. Here, we experimentally reduced, through medication, the intensity of infection by Haemoproteus parasites in wild-breeding female blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus. However, this treatment did not reduce the intensity of infection in males or the intensity of infection by Leucocytozoon. Medicated females, but not males, showed increased local survival until the next breeding season compared with control birds. To our knowledge, this is the first empirical evidence showing long-term direct survival costs of chronic Haemoproteus infections in wild birds.
Keywords: host–parasite interactions, parasitism costs, sexual differences