Document Detail

Hormones, life-history, and phenotypic variation: Opportunities in evolutionary avian endocrinology.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22154573     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Life-histories provide a powerful, conceptual framework for integration of endocrinology, evolutionary biology and ecology. This has been a commonly articulated statement but here I show, in the context of avian reproduction, that true integration of ultimate and proximate approaches has been slow. We have only a rudimentary understanding of the physiological and hormonal basis of phenotypic variation in (a) reproductive traits that contribute most to individual variation in lifetime fitness in birds (e.g. laying date, clutch size, parental effort) and (b) trade-offs that link these traits or that link reproduction to other life stages (e.g. migration, molt). I suggest that some reasons for this relative lack of progress include (a) an increasingly reductionist and centralist (upstream) focus which is more and more removed from ecological/evolutionary context, and from peripheral (downstream) mechanisms that actually determine how phenotypes work (b) a long-standing male-bias in experimental studies, even though the key reproductive traits which contribute most to variation in fitness are female-specific traits (e.g. onset of vitellogenesis, egg size or number). Endocrine systems provide strong candidate mechanisms for regulation of phenotypic variation in single traits, and two endocrine concepts capture the essence of life-history trade-offs: (a) hormonal 'pleiotropy', when single hormones have both positive and negative effects on multiple physiological systems and (b) hormonal conflict between regulatory systems required for different but over-lapping or linked life-history stages. I illustrate these ideas with examples of reproductive anemia, migration-reproduction overlap, and molt-breeding overlap, to highlight some of the tremendous opportunities that exist for comparative endocrinologists to contribute to mechanistic studies of avian reproduction in an evolutionary context.
Tony D Williams
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2011-12-1
Journal Detail:
Title:  General and comparative endocrinology     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1095-6840     ISO Abbreviation:  -     Publication Date:  2011 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-12-13     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0370735     Medline TA:  Gen Comp Endocrinol     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, Canada V5A 1S6.
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