Meeting Abstract

S6-8  Friday, Jan. 5 13:30 - 14:00  Environmental Endocrinology: Field and Laboratory Investigations of Mechanisms in Life Cycles. WINGFIELD, JC; Univ. California, Davis

All organisms must time their life cycles appropriately and organize life history stages into temporal sequences that enhance fitness in a changing environment. The endocrine system plays a major role in transducing information from the environment into morphological, physiological and behavioral responses appropriate for the time of year. These perception, transduction, response pathways via neural and endocrine mechanisms are being revealed. Whereas many common mechanisms (evolutionary constraints hypothesis) are emerging, there is a growing realization that there may be unique pathways (evolutionary flexibility hypothesis). Field investigations (field endocrinology) over the past 45 years have revealed patterns of hormonal responses to environmental changes, physical and social, that could not have been anticipated from laboratory investigations alone. These patterns include differences at population and individual levels that have enabled new insights into acclimation and adaptation to environmental transitions. The number of species studied under natural conditions has grown exponentially in recent years to include all vertebrate classes and many invertebrates as well. These data are now driving evolutionary perspectives and with the advent of comparative genomics a new and exciting era of evolutionary endocrinology is developing. This symposium gives a timely overview of where the field stands now and where it is likely to go in the future.