NSERC PGS PhD Student (May 2018 – Present)
The use of social information allows animals to gain insights regarding the environment over much larger spatial scales, and in turn adjust their behaviour and physiology accordingly. Recent research has demonstrated both how social information can influence individual physiology and in turn how physiological stress as mediated via the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis can alter how social information is produced and received. My PhD research focuses on the interactions between these two factors, combining techniques from behavioural ecology and stress physiology in an integrative approach using the North American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) as a model organism. This species defends discrete territories through highly stereotyped “rattle” vocalizations, rarely ever having direct physical confrontations with neighbouring individuals. This provides an excellent model to study how social information is influenced by and incorporated into the physiology of individuals under natural conditions.
Send Alex an email: [email protected]