Molecular and neuroendocrine approaches to understanding trade-offs: Food, sex, aggression, stress, and longevity-An introduction to the symposium

Jill E. Schneider, Pierre Deviche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Synopsis Life history strategies are composed of multiple fitness components, each of which incurs costs and benefits. Consequently, organisms cannot maximize all fitness components simultaneously. This situation results in a dynamic array of trade-offs in which some fitness traits prevail at the expense of others, often depending on context. The identification of specific constraints and trade-offs has helped elucidate physiological mechanisms that underlie variation in behavioral and physiological life history strategies. There is general recognition that trade-offs are made at the individual and population level, but much remains to be learned concerning the molecular neuroendocrine mechanisms that underlie trade-offs. For example, we still do not know whether the mechanisms that underlie trade-offs at the individual level relate to trade-offs at the population level. To advance our understanding of trade-offs, we organized a group of speakers who study neuroendocrine mechanisms at the interface of traits that are not maximized simultaneously. Speakers were invited to represent research from a wide range of taxa including invertebrates (e.g., worms and insects), fish, nonavian reptiles, birds, and mammals. Three general themes emerged. First, the study of trade-offs requires that we investigate traditional endocrine mechanisms that include hormones, neuropeptides, and their receptors, and in addition, other chemical messengers not traditionally included in endocrinology. The latter group includes growth factors, metabolic intermediates, and molecules of the immune system. Second, the nomenclature and theory of neuroscience that has dominated the study of behavior is being re-evaluated in the face of evidence for the peripheral actions of so-called neuropeptides and neurotransmitters and the behavioral repercussions of these actions. Finally, environmental and ecological contexts continue to be critical in unmasking molecular mechanisms that are hidden when study animals are housed in enclosed spaces, with unlimited food, without competitors or conspecifics, and in constant ambient conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1151-1160
Number of pages10
JournalIntegrative and comparative biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular and neuroendocrine approaches to understanding trade-offs: Food, sex, aggression, stress, and longevity-An introduction to the symposium'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this