Jessica L Malisch
Research in my lab focuses on the vertebrate stress response and the effects of stress on physiology and behavior. I collect physiological and behavioral data from a population of white-crowned sparrows each May and June in the eastern Sierra Mountains just outside Yosemite National Park in California.
I also plan to conduct similar studies of white-crowned sparrows and dark-eyed juncos in southern Maryland. Students in my lab may join me in the eastern Sierras to collect data, may help collect data from bird populations around campus, and/or analyze previously collected plasma samples, field videos, and field activity data.
My most recent work in the sierras is examining decision making during inclement weather. Global climate change has led to an increase in severity and inconsistency of typical weather patterns subjecting free-living organisms to more stressful events in an increasingly stochastic environment. Organism’s responses to storms may affect reproductive success and thus fitness. For example, fleeing a storm may increase life-time survival but may also result in the loss of territory or nest abandonment. How organisms make these types of decisions is not well understood, but hormonal influences on behavior make endocrine secretions prime candidates.