Schimmel/Conrades Science Center 163

“Seasonality and Environmental Regulation of Immunity: Insights from Free-Living and Captive Red Crossbills”

An organism’s investment in costly physiological processes such as immune function can fluctuate in response to environmental and physiological changes. Historically, research on patterns of physiological investment has focused on seasonally breeding organisms that reproduce when environmental conditions are mild and resources are abundant. In contrast, the red crossbill Loxia curvirostra is a reproductively flexible songbird that times reproduction to coincide with booms in conifer seed abundance, an erratically available food resource. Crossbills provide an ideal system to investigate how demands imposed by physiological processes and environmental fluctuations influence investment in immunity. Specifically, my talk will address: 1) how investment in immunity varies across and within years in free-living red crossbills in Grand Teton National Park, in Jackson, WY, and II) which environmental and physiological factors explain these patterns based on data from both free-living and captive crossbills.

Dr. Elizabeth Schultz is a visiting assistant professor of Biology at Kenyon College.