Listen: Biologist Alex Baugh on Why There Is So Much Variation in How Animals Respond to Challenges
This fall, Assistant Professor of Biology Alex Baugh gave a lecture, "Do Endocrine Syndromes Underlie Behavioral Syndromes in Songbirds?" In his talk, Baugh considers why there is so much variation in how animals respond to challenges, why individuals often vary dramatically in hormone profiles, and whether these two observations are linked. He describes a set of studies aimed at understanding the stability and inter-relatedness of hormonal and behavioral traits using a wild European songbird. He explores the dynamics of the endocrine stress axis and how it relates to risk-taking, exploration, and boldness. Baugh aims to free the audience of the "tyranny of the golden mean" and instead takes a deep dive into the interesting biology hidden inside the error bars.
Baugh teaches organismal biology courses, mentors students, and conducts primary research on vertebrate behavior. As an integrative biologist, he is interested in understanding how animals conduct their lives in their intimate natural environments. With his students, he investigates how hormones and the brain generate variation in behavior and they connect this variation to fitness consequences in the wild.