|Dr. Jennifer Grindstaff|
Ecological Immunology, Physiological Ecology, Behavioral Ecology, Avian Biology
Ph.D., 2004, Indiana University
My research incorporates concepts and approaches from physiology, behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology. I use this integrative approach to understand both the proximate mechanisms and the evolutionary consequences of life history trade-offs. Studies in the lab involve the integration of field and laboratory work to explore how ecological and physiological parameters act and interact to influence parent and offspring phenotypes.
Research in the lab currently centers around two main questions: (1) how does exposure to stress during development affect adult physiology and behavior? and (2) how is individual variation in hormone production translated into behavioral consistency? To address the first question, we work with a captive population of zebra finches and experimentally manipulate stress exposure either prior to egg production or after offspring hatch. Stressors utilized for these experiments include: immune challenges, fasting, corticosterone, and environmental contaminants. In offspring, we assess effects of early life stress on a suite of physiological and behavioral traits including: immune responses, stress response sensitivity, personality, learning and memory. To address the second question, we work with a wild population of Eastern bluebirds and experimentally manipulate the release of the steroid hormone, testosterone. We then relate the ability to produce testosterone to the consistent expression of behavior in parental and aggressive contexts.
For more information about our research, please consult the lab website.