Tufts University  |  School of Arts and Sciences  |  Department of Biology  |  Find People  | 
   

Research

Overview

Our research interests focus on the vertebrate stress response, especially in relation to wild, free-living animals. We know that stress can have a multitude of bad effects, but we also know that in certain circumstances stress is beneficial. Work in our laboratory aims to increase our understanding of how the behavioral, physiological, and endocrine mechanisms underlying stress help wild animals survive stressful stimuli such as predators, storms, or anthropogenic changes. We have work completed or in progress with 16 avian species (focusing on European starlings and house sparrows), 7 reptile species (focusing on Galapagos marine iguanas), 5 wild mammalian species (focusing on brown lemmings, Grevy’s zebras, and degus), and 2 amphibians (focusing on spotted salamanders).

Research in our lab takes an integrative approach. The nature of our studies often necessitates that we work in several different fields simultaneously (i.e., neuroendocrinology and ecology), an uncommon approach for studying stress. Approximately a third of our work is done in the field, for in order to obtain a clearer picture of how stress affects a wild animal, we must be able to understand how that animal fits into its environment. Since studies of mechanisms are difficult to conduct in the field, most of our detailed mechanistic studies must be performed in the lab. Our research thus consists of intimately intertwined laboratory and field studies in the areas of endocrinology, ecology, and neuroscience, all with the goal of increasing our comprehension of the causes and effects of stress in wild animals.