For the past seven years, Maren Vitousek, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and her research group have been studying a population of tree swallows in the Ithaca area.
When they analysed breeding and hormone data, the team found a negative relationship between the temperature during the birds’ development and their hormonal response to stressors as adults. Specifically, they found that colder temperatures during the development stage had an effect on swallows later in life.
“This study is part of a growing body of research showing that relatively minor differences in the environment in which an individual develops can have significant consequences for how they cope with stress later in life,” Vitousek said. “This phenomenon could help explain how changing environments are impacting many different species.” MORE
Header image: David Chang van Oordt/Cornell University.