Project: Multi-Stressor Interactions

For most species, we have exceptionally limited understanding of the interactive effects of natural stressors. Previous research has demonstrated that stressors can interact such that prior stressors can be protective or adversary with respect to consequences of subsequent stressor exposure. Data emerging from the biomedical literature indicate that stressors can have persistent epigenetic effects suggesting that the degree of overlap in the molecular response may mediate this interactive effect between sequential stressors. This presents the opportunity to understand how responses to ecologically relevant stressors interact at the molecular level, and how this translates to the level of the organism.


Fence Lizard:i In collaboration with Dr. Tracy Langkilde from Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Rory Telemeco from California State University, and my MS student Dasia Simpson, we are using the lizard Sceloporus undulatus in a series of controlled laboratory experiments and a field study to understand the interactions among naturally occurring stressors. We have sequence the Sceloporus undulatus genome and we are preparing it for publication (includes work from 3 graduate students and a postdoc from my lab). This is a very high-quality assembly (chromosome length scaffolds), thus providing us and many other colleagues a valuable resource for doing high quality genomic experiments.  Current work is establishing the genomic and physiological responses of the fence lizard to various stressors. We will use these data to make predictions about the consequences of multiple stressor interactions (sequentially and concurrently) which we will then test experimentally. This research has implications for making accurate predictions for who populations will respond to stressors and which populations will likely be able to survive changes in their environments.


Principal Investigators:

  • Tonia Schwartz, Auburn University

  • Tracy Langkilde, Pennsylvania State University

  • Rory Telemeco, California State University

Graduate Students:

  • Dasia Simpson

Undergraduate Students:‚Äč

  • Milica Courtenay

We are grateful for funding from the following sources that have supported this research.
Related Publications

Telemeco, RS, D Simpson, C Tylan, T Langkilde, TS Schwartz. 2019. Contrasting cellular and endocrine responses of lizards to divergent ecological stressors. Integrative and Comparative Biology.

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