Skip to content

Female competition and the challenge hypothesis: insights from a feisty female bird

Weekly EEB Seminar featuring Dr. Kim Rosvall with the University of Indiana

Trade-offs between parental care and intrasexual competition are thought to drive interspecific, seasonal, and social variation in testosterone in male vertebrates (i.e. the challenge hypothesis). Female competition and aggression are also widespread; however, it is unclear whether and how the challenge hypothesis applies to females. Research in my lab seeks to identify mechanisms of female aggression and how they evolve. We study the tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor), a cavity-nesting bird for which social challenges from prospecting rivals pose a very real threat to territorial females. Our results demonstrate that female aggression is adaptive and mediated by testosterone to some degree. However, seasonal changes in aggression do not mirror changes in testosterone in circulation, suggesting that additional mechanisms must exist to allow for marked aggression in the face of low testosterone. Here, I present data that integrate hormonal and genomic mechanisms across the brain and body, to develop a framework for understanding mechanisms of social competition in females and how they are shaped by natural selection. 

Friday, November 8, 2019 at 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Science & Engineering Building, 307
1414 Circle Dr, Knoxville, TN 37996

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations, Meetings & Conferences




Current Students, Faculty & Staff


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Contact Name

Orou Gaoue

Contact Email

Google Calendar iCal Outlook

Recent Activity