Like males, females also have exaggerated weapons, ornaments, and displays that may be important in intra- or inter-sexual competition. Much less is known about the function of these traits in females, or how they are regulated. Most of our work on this topic centers around female-female aggression and competition in tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor), a cavity nesting bird for which social challenges from prospecting rivals pose a very real threat to territorial females and their offspring.
Female competition and endocrine mechanisms
Integrated organismal responses to diverse environmental challenges
Several lab projects address the degree to which environmental challenges activate conserved mechanisms across different contexts, and we are beginning to integrate these various experiments and approaches to understand how diverse stressors –social, psychological, immunological, thermal – affect organismal function, across both brain and periphery.