NSERC CGS PhD Student (Sept 2019 – Present)
Exposure to early-life stress can have long-term consequences on health and fitness, however, proximate mechanisms linking these phenomena are poorly understood. An animal’s physiological response to stressful stimuli is primarily mediated by activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Recently, the gut-microbiome has been identified as existing in a bi-directional relationship with HPA axis. For my PhD research I will explore the interaction between early-life HPA axis dynamics and gut microbiota, and how these factors relate to physiology and fitness in a population of wild Savannah sparrows. Understanding the lasting impacts of the early-life gut-brain axis in a wild avian system will contribute to our knowledge of how environmental stress can shape wildlife health in natural systems, which may have important consequences for the conservation of avian species.
Send Hayley an email: [email protected]