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Vertebrates respond to environmental stressors through the neuro-endocrine stress response, which involves the production of glucocorticoids. We have selected independent, duplicate divergent lines of zebra finches for high, low and control corticosterone responses to a mild stressor. This experiment has shown that over the first four generations, the high(More)
Recent studies of several species have reported a latitudinal cline in the circadian clock gene, Clock, which influences rhythms in both physiology and behavior. Latitudinal variation in this gene may hence reflect local adaptation to seasonal variation. In some bird populations, there is also an among-individual association between Clock poly-Q genotype(More)
Sexually selected signals of individual dominance have profound effects on access to resources, mate choice and gene flow. However, why such signals should honestly reflect individual quality is poorly understood. Many such signals are known to develop under the influence of testosterone. We conducted an experiment in male house sparrows in which(More)
The original immunocompetence handicap hypothesis (ICHH) suggested that testosterone has a handicapping effect in males by both promoting the development of sexual signals and suppressing immune function. A modified version, the stress-linked ICHH, has recently proposed that testosterone is immunosuppressive indirectly by increasing production of(More)
The effects of environmental stress on the physiology and behaviour of higher vertebrates has become an important avenue of research in recent years. Evidence from recent studies has suggested that the avian stress-related hormone corticosterone (CORT) may play a role in immunocompetence and sexual selection. We tested whether CORT is immunosuppressive by(More)
In mammals, stress hormones have profound influences on spatial learning and memory. Here, we investigated whether glucocorticoids influence cognitive abilities in birds by testing a line of zebra finches selectively bred to respond to an acute stressor with high plasma corticosterone (CORT) levels. Cognitive performance was assessed by spatial and visual(More)
One of the most important measures of offspring performance is growth rate, which is often traded off against another important survival trait, immune function. A particular feature of ostrich chicks maintained in farmed environments is that cohorts of chicks vary widely in size. As parents can have a profound effect on the phenotype and fitness of their(More)
Modellers of biological, ecological, and environmental systems cannot take for granted the maxim 'simple means general means good'. We argue here that viewing simple models as the main way to achieve generality may be an obstacle to the progress of ecological research. We show how complex models can be both desirable and general, and how simple and complex(More)
The world is changing at an unprecedented rate. In such a situation, we need to understand the nature of the change and to make predictions about the way in which it might affect systems of interest; often we may also wish to understand what might be done to mitigate the predicted effects. In ecology, we usually make such predictions (or forecasts) by(More)
The immunocompetence handicap hypothesis (ICHH) suggests that the male sex hormone testosterone has a dual effect; it controls the development and expression of male sexually selected signals, and it suppresses the immune system. Therefore only high quality males are able to fully express secondary sexual traits because only they can tolerate the(More)