Jenny Ouyang uses natural and laboratory experiments to test how, and at what rate, hormonally regulated traits enable organismal adaptation to changing environments.
Neuroendocrine mechanisms regulate the remarkable interspecific variation in life history traits that have fascinated biologists for decades. Which mechanisms, though, cause individuals to respond differently when facing the same ecological conditions? Individual variation in endocrine organization is likely to play an important role, because hormones have pleiotropic effects on behavior, morphology and homeostasis, regulating gene expression and life-history transitions.
Past and ongoing projects include evaluating the endocrine stress response in long-term studies of songbirds, testing the plasticity and flexibility of physiological traits in response to environmental change, and characterizing the epigenetic and phenotypic traits that allow organisms to adapt to rapid urbanization.