SICB Annual Meeting 2017
January 4-8, 2017
New Orleans, LA

Symposium: Molecular and Neuroendocrine Approaches to Understanding Tradeoffs: Food, Sex, Aggression, Stress, and Longevity

Figure: Healthy little brown bat covered in condensation during hibernation. The invasive fungal disease white-nose syndrome (WNS) may have introduced a trade-off for species like the little brown bat. Bats require high humidity to hibernate successfully but the fungus that causes WNS also thrives in humid conditions potentially driving selection for altered habitat selection by bats. Photo by James Turner.
Life is full of tradeoffs in which we must sacrifice something of value to gain something new. For example, a professor’s research progress must be temporarily sacrificed during the semesters when she is required to carry an excessive teaching/administrative load. In physiological systems, tradeoffs are linked to constraints. Limited time, energy, and other resources require that some activities preclude engagement in other activities. Thus, in endotherms that live in harsh winter habitats (food shortages coupled with low ambient temperatures), reproduction is often suppressed to conserve energy for thermogenesis. In terms of evolutionary biology, tradeoffs are defined by the cost in fitness when an increase in expression of one trait necessarily leads to detriments in another (Stearns, 1989). For example, in some species, longevity depends upon a reduction or elimination of fertility at the appropriate times; conversely, high fertility is often incompatible with longevity. Specifically, investment in traits that directly increase fecundity and survival of offspring can decrease the ability to invest in other traits, such as growth, immune function, development, and even future reproduction (Williams, 1966). Physiology, animal behavior, and life history strategy have been studied within the context of tradeoffs, and yet we have much to learn about the molecular and neuroendocrine mechanisms that create tradeoffs.

The speakers in this symposium are all working on tradeoffs at various levels of analysis including individuals, families, and populations. They are working on different physiological systems including aging, longevity, growth, immunity, reproduction, development, and hibernation. These talks include many different species. There will be talks about invertebrates (nematodes and insects) and vertebrates (mammals, birds, snakes, and fish) and even some exotic species less represented at SICB, such as the laboratory rat and transgenic knock out mouse. There is likely to be an entire matrix of overlapping mechanisms that underlie these tradeoffs. Those who attend the entire symposium might be able to detect the components of the matrix.

The speakers are thrilled to speak at a meeting where research that is also relevant to clinical/translational endocrinology can be enriched and enlivened by bringing it into the context of ecology and evolutionary biology. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie the link between energy homeostasis, reproduction, aggression, stress, immunity, and longevity is relevant to understanding obesity, eating disorders, child abuse, infertility, and cancer in our own species.

Sponsors: SICB DAB, DCE, & DNB and Department of Biological Sciences, Lehigh University


  • Jill E. Schneider, Department of Biological Sciences, Lehigh University
  • Pierre Deviche, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University


S3-1 Thursday, Jan. 5, 08:00 EMMONS, S.W.: Neural circuitry that mediates behavior governing the tradeoffs between survival and reproduction in Caenorhabditis elegans

S3-3 Thursday, Jan. 5, 09:00 BROZEK, J: How do maternal programming strategies differ in the Syrian hamster, a seasonal breeder?

S3-4 Thursday, Jan. 5, 09:30 LUTTERSCHMIDT, D.I.: Neuroendocrine control of the seasonal switch from reproduction to foraging in garter snakes

S3-5 Thursday, Jan. 5, 10:30 DEVICHE, P.J.*; BITTNER, S.; GAO, S.; VALLE, S.: Food Supply and the Timing of Reproduction

S3-6 Thursday, Jan. 5, 11:00 BENTLEY, GE: Neural versus gonadal GnIH: Are they independent systems?

S3-7 Thursday, Jan. 5, 11:30 DEMAS, G.E.*; CARLTON, E.D.: You Make Me Sick: Energetic Signals Regulating Seasonal Sickness Responses

S3-8 Thursday, Jan. 5, 13:30 WILLIS, C.K.R.*; CZENZE, Z.C.; DAVY, C.M.; FLETCHER, Q.E.; MAYBERRY, H.W.; MCGUIRE, L.P.; MUISE, K.; WEBBER, Q.M.R.: Tradeoffs governing the physiological ecology of hibernation in endangered bats

S3-9 Thursday, Jan. 5, 14:00 SCHNEIDER, Jill E.*; BENTON, Noah; RUSSO, Kim; BROZEK, Jeremy; KRIEGSFELD, Lance: The Role of GnIH in the Tradeoff Between Reproductive and Ingestive Behavior

S3-10 Thursday, Jan. 5, 14:30 FERKIN, M.H.: The Effects of Food Availabilty on the Maternal and Sociosexual Behaviors of Meadow Voles

S3-11 Thursday, Jan. 5, 15:00 CRESPI, E. J.*; TRAVIS, J. A.: The search for mechanisms underlying evolutionary trade-offs in response to different selection pressures in the least killifish