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Emily Deschler

Exploring How Life History Affects Stress Responses

Emily Deschler ’22

Faculty Mentor(s):
Mark Haussmann, Biology Department
Funding Source:
Department of Biology

When an organism encounters a stressful stimulus, the endocrine system activates a physiological stress response through a cascade of hormone signaling, which functions to promote short-term survival by mobilizing and reallocating energy. In vertebrates, glucocorticoids (GCs) are released during the stress response. However, vertebrates vary greatly in their life histories, which in turn may require differentially regulated stress responses. Vertebrate species fall along a continuum of slow to fast life histories. Those with slow life histories tend to have slower growth rates, later maturation, larger size, fewer offspring, and longer lifespans. Alternatively, those with fast life histories tend to have faster growth rates, earlier maturation, smaller size, more offspring, and shorter lifespans. Although quail are classified as having faster life histories compared to other vertebrates, there is still ample variation among quail species. We are developing a comparative quail model to investigate whether stress responses differ based on where a specific quail species falls on the life history continuum. Specifically, we categorized how stress responses differ using three distinct measures. We predict that species with slow life histories will be able to turn off a stress response more rapidly compared to species with fast life histories. Our initial results show that the Blue Scale quail (fast life history) actually recovered more quickly from stressors, in comparison to Chinese Button quail (slow life history). I will discuss interpretations and implications of these results in further detail.

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