In general, my research examines how animals interact with their environment. In particular, I am interested in how hormones modulate physiological responses to environmental stimuli and how these physiological responses affect reproduction and survival and, ultimately, drive population and evolutionary responses.
Developing animals are particularly susceptible to environmental conditions. As such, the developmental environment can have strong, canalizing effects on animal phenotype. A component of my research examines the phenotypic and fitness effects of exposure to stress during development. Developing animals are susceptible to perturbations to their environment such as food restriction, predator exposure, inclement weather or temperature extremes, and anthropogenic disturbances. Such disturbances can elevate levels of glucocorticoid hormones that regulate physiological and behavioural responses to stressors. My research examines the immediate and sustained phenotypic and fitness effects of developmental stress across life-history stages using birds and lizards as model systems.
As the human population grows at an increasing rate, so does our impact on the environment. Understanding how humans affect wildlife is becoming a matter of increasing importance for conservation and management. I use physiological tools to assess the impacts of humans on the health, survival, and reproduction of wild animals.
Stress hormones and reproduction in birds
Animals balance the energetic demands of survival against the energetic demands of reproduction. I study the role of glucocorticoid hormones in modulating the investment between self-maintenance and reproduction using Australian birds as model species.