SICB Annual Meeting 2018
January 3-7, 2018
San Francisco, CA

Symposium: Illuminating the Evolution of Endocrine System Variation Through Large-Scale Comparative Analyses

Hormones are central regulators of organismal function and flexibility, mediating the expression of an array of phenotypic traits from early development through senescence. Hormones play critical roles in many important processes, including coping with environmental fluctuations and challenges, responding to social interactions, and mediating life history investment. Yet despite these crucial roles, basic questions about how, when, and why hormone systems evolve remain unanswered. When do different environments select for differing endocrine phenotypes? Why are endocrine traits often remarkably variable within populations and life history stages? Do rapid endocrine responses enable greater flexibility in behavior or other phenotypic traits? Can hormonal phenotypes predict the ability of a species to invade novel environments, or persist in changing environments?

This symposium will highlight the power and potential of using large data sets, emerging phylogenetic comparative methods, and new analytical frameworks, to test these and other questions of broad relevance to biological research. Central to this approach is the ability to access and analyze the multitude of endocrine data that have been collected over the past several decades, across diverse taxa. The organizers of this symposium, together with other collaborators, are in the final stages of producing a large database of hormone variation across vertebrates. This database, HormoneBase, includes all un-manipulated measures of plasma glucocorticoids and androgens from free-living adult vertebrates. In conjunction with this symposium, HormoneBase – which is supported by a database development team with expertise in online data archiving – will be made publicly and freely available to the global scientific community, to facilitate research into the function and evolution of hormones and the traits they mediate.

Sponsors: DAB, DCE, DCPB & DEE


  • Maren Vitousek, Cornell University
  • Michele Johnson, Trinity University
  • Jerry Husak, University of St. Thomas


Michele Johnson (Trinity University)
The evolution of endocrine system variation: a large-scale comparative analysis of testosterone.

Maren Vitousek (Cornell University)
Glucocorticoid evolution across vertebrates: the effects of social and physical environment.

Clinton Francis (California Polytechnic State University)
Metabolic scaling of stress hormones across vertebrates.

Stefania Casagrande (Max Planck Institute for Ornithology)
Glucocorticoid scope across life history stages.

Matthew Fuxjager (Wake Forest University)
Are steroid hormones hypervariable or hyperevolvable traits?

László Garamszegi (Estación Biológica de Doñana-CSIC)
Phylogeny and diversification: hormone levels and speciation rate in birds.

Laura Schoenle (Hamilton College, University of South Florida)
Does variation in steroid hormone regulation influence fitness? A phylogenetic meta-analysis.

John Wingfield (University of California, Davis)
Environmental endocrinology: field and laboratory investigations for mechanisms in life cycles.

Lynn (Marty) Martin (University of South Florida)
Hormonal variation and invasion biology.

Sarah Guindre-Parker (University of Guelph)
Coping with environmental uncertainty using the avian glucocorticoid response.

Rosemary Knapp (University of Oklahoma)
Androgens and glucocorticoids in vertebrate parental care.