EEB Seminar: February 13th

This is Fran, and yes that is a cougar

Frances Bonier will talk on

Perils and pitfalls. How can we measure natural selection on endocrine traits?

at 12:30 in the EEB lounge (BioSciences 4338)

Behavioral endocrinologists are becoming increasingly interested in the evolutionary context of the endocrine traits that we study. Yet, we lack a robust approach for detecting natural selection on these exquisitely plastic traits, perhaps in large part because of their plasticity, and also because of the complex ways in which selection might act. For example, selection might favor hormone levels that closely match dynamic environmental challenges in nature, and thus optimal phenotypes cannot be understood without accounting for the current and prior challenges facing individuals. I will explore some of the unique challenges for understanding the evolution of endocrine traits. Overall, standard fitness-trait curves can be misleading, obscuring our understanding of how selection acts on endocrine traits. Reaction norm and adaptive plasticity approaches, however, could provide more useful frameworks for moving forward.

tree swallows, photo by P-G Bentz

Dr. Frances Bonier is an Assistant Professor at Queen’s University. She completed her Masters at the University of Idaho, where she worked on cougars, then completed her PhD at the University of Washington with John Wingfield, where she worked on the effects of urbanization on birds. Fran is interested in how animals cope with and respond to challenges in their environment. Her work is dynamic and draws upon multiple disciplines in biology to link environmental challenges with physiological responses, changes in behaviour, and changes in reproductive effort. Fran is also interested in how environmental challenges shape life-histories and the evolutionary trajectories of organism. Recently, Fran received a young investigators award at the International Symposium on Avian Endocrinology, and a prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Everyone is welcome to attend
Coffee and treats available at the seminar

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