Kat Presents at SBN 2021

Last week, Kat gave a virtual poster presentation at SBN 2021, the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology’s annual meeting! In her presentation, she discussed some of her recent findings on how adrenal and neural 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD) activity varies in a seasonal and sex-specific manner in Siberian hamsters. Way to go, Kat!

Kate Publishes Manuscript in Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A

Kate’s manuscript on the repeatability of social and escape behaviors across developmental stages in male and female hamsters was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A! In this study, Kate showed that individuals’ social behavior scores were repeatable within the juvenile stage, but not across developmental stages. In contrast, escape behavior scores were highly repeatable across developmental stages, but males’ scores were more repeatable than females’ scores. Collectively, her results suggest that personality traits associated with social behavior are less stable across development, while behaviors associated with stress could be a more permanent feature of an individual’s behavioral phenotype. In addition, her findings suggest that there are sex differences in the long-term repeatability of personality.

A link for the manuscript can be found under the “Publications” page and can also be accessed here.

Jess Publishes Review in Journal of Experimental Biology

Jess’s review on the use of non-model systems to study microbiome-behavior relationships was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Biology! In her paper, Jess describes the benefits of studying how the gut microbiome influences social behavior using a comparative approach, with a particular focus on how the gut microbiome can affect behavior in the context of development, reproduction, parental care, and cooperation and the novel mechanisms and environmental factors that may influence these microbiome-behavior relationships.

A link for the manuscript can be found under the “Publications” page and can also be accessed here.

Congratulations to our Spring 2021 Graduates!

Congratulations to our spring 2021 graduates: undergraduate students Taylor Deckard, Molly Pendergast, and Andi Nowakowski! All of us in the Demas lab are so proud of all you have accomplished, and we wish you the best of luck on your future endeavors!

Jess Accepts Assistant Professor Position at Utah Valley University

Jess recently accepted an Assistant Professor position at Utah Valley University, which she will be starting in Fall 2021! Jess’s lab at UVU will investigate the developmental mechanisms influencing individual variation in cooperation. Congratulations Jess, and we can’t wait to hear about the exciting research that comes out of the Cusick Lab!

Kat Publishes Manuscript in Journal of Neuroendocrinology

Kat’s manuscript on how melatonin regulates seasonal variation in neurosteroids and aggressive behavior was recently published in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology! In this study, Kat showed that male hamsters given a long-term, short day (SD)-like melatonin signal, either via timed melatonin injections or exposure to SD photoperiods (LD-M and SD hamsters, respectively), displayed increased aggression and showed region-specific reductions in dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), testosterone (T), and estradiol (E2) levels in brain regions associated with aggressive behavior. She also showed that LD-M and SD hamsters exhibited similar associations between aggression and neurosteroid levels, in which neural T, E2, and cortisol were negatively correlated with aggression, whereas neural progesterone and DHEA were positively correlated with aggression. Collectively, her findings suggest that seasonal changes in neurosteroid levels and aggression in mammals are mediated, at least in part, by melatonin.

A link for the manuscript can be found under the “Publications” page and can also be accessed here.

Kat Presents at SICB 2021

This week, Kat gave an oral presentation at SICB 2021, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology’s annual meeting! In her talk, she discussed some of her recent findings on the role of adrenal melatonin 1a receptor (Mel1aR) signaling in modulating territorial aggression in male Siberian hamsters. Way to go, Kat!

Nikki Publishes Manuscript in Journal of Neuroendocrinology

Former Demas Lab graduate student Dr. Nikki Rendon’s manuscript on the role of melatonin in regulating steroid metabolism and aggressive behavior in female hamsters was recently published in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology! In this study, Nikki showed that females given a SD-like melatonin signal, either via timed melatonin injections or exposure to short-day photoperiods, reduced circulating dehydroepiandrosterone and testosterone levels, but increased circulating estradiol levels following an aggressive interaction. She also found that LD and SD females showed distinct relationships between aggression and neural aromatase abundance. Together, her findings suggest that melatonin increases non-breeding aggression by elevating circulating steroid metabolism after an aggressive encounter and by regulating behaviorally-relevant neural circuits in a region-specific manner.

A link for the manuscript can be found under the “Publications” page and can also be accessed here.

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