Dr. Love and Western visit

14 05 2016

Catching up on my backblog as there is a lot going on in Southern Ontario if you’re willing to drive is a theme of mine right now (not a snappy one, I know, but true).

Early in February Windsor’s Oliver Love ran a journal club and presented a seminar about the potential adaptive value of maternal stress. Maria and I went along (and got to spend quality time with Sigal Balshine afterwards too).

The whole ‘ecologists study stress’ thing is really limited by their obsession with glucocorticoids (sympathetic and other effects are ignored, just because harder to measure), but some of the results and ideas Oliver presented were still very cool. One was their own finding that when glucocorticoid-dosed starling eggs were hatched by poor quality mothers, it increased these females’ inclusive fitness, helping them to raise bigger subsequent broods. Another was work by Bestion and colleagues on common lizards: exposing gravid females to predator cues resulted in offspring with stronger dispersal behaviour and longer tails (which might help them escape predation by tail autotomy).

Even longer ago (nearly a year), I gave a seminar myself, at Western. This was hosted by David Sherry and his group. I spent most of a day there, seeing their impressive CFI-funded wild bird lab and wind tunnel, eating lovely food, and finding out what his great grad students were up to. My talk, which seemed to go down well, summed up some of my lab’s recent work and presented the ideas I was fleshing out for my NSERC proposal. An excellent visit.