SSA Consequences of early life stress on social behaviour and the reproductive system in birds

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Scienc

Abstract

Early life experience can program our physiology, brain and behaviour so that there are significant consequences in adulthood. Studies, performed mainly in rodents, suggest that adverse environmental early life experiences can have major implications for reproductive health (see Brunton 2014 for review). Many studies have just focused on the pre-natal environment (Ahmed et al., 2014) and other effects of early life stress on development have been investigated by stress hormone manipulations of embryos whilst they are still in the egg (Zimmer et al., 2013). However there are other sensitive periods in our lives during which adverse events can impact our health in later life such as the post-natal period and during adolescence. Intensively reared birds in the poultry industry experience many negative situations such as aggression, food restriction and overcrowding during early life and the potential consequences of these environments could impact significantly on our food security and animal welfare protocols.
The aim of this PhD is to examine the effects of adverse experiences during sensitive post-natal periods on the subsequent behaviour and reproductive health of birds.

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M010996/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1658212 Studentship BB/M010996/1 15/09/2015 01/10/2019 Georgia Longmoor
 
Description BBSRC in vivo skills award
Amount £3,300 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 10/2019
 
Description Birrell-Gray Travelling Scholarship
Amount £500 (GBP)
Organisation University of Edinburgh 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2016
 
Description British Society for Neuroendocrinology International Travel Award
Amount £500 (GBP)
Organisation British Society for Neuroendocrinology 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2016 
End 07/2016
 
Description British Society for Neuroendocrinology Research Visit Grant
Amount £1,095 (GBP)
Organisation British Society for Neuroendocrinology 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 09/2018
 
Description COST training school - The role of early life experiences in the development of damaging behaviour
Amount € 690 (EUR)
Organisation European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) 
Department COST Action
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 11/2017 
End 11/2017
 
Description Genetics Society Communicating Your Science Workshop
Amount £91 (GBP)
Organisation The Genetics Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 04/2017
 
Description Genetics Society Junior Scientist Travel Grant
Amount £750 (GBP)
Organisation The Genetics Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2017 
End 07/2017
 
Description Physiological Society Travel Grant
Amount £800 (GBP)
Organisation Physiological Society 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2017 
End 05/2017
 
Description BBSRC thematic workshop, Roslin Institute 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This meeting was organized as part of my BBSRC PhD funding. 1st year PhD students were split into groups depending on their research priority area, and each group organized a thematic meeting for the rest of the cohort. Our meeting (neurobehaviour) was focused on group discussions, presentations and laboratory demonstrations. The aim of the day was to introduce challenges, questions and tools that are key in our research area. The thematic meetings also provided our cohort with an opportunity to get to know other EASTBIO students and supervisors working in complementary research areas, to share expertise and establish collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Bird Stress Midlothian Science Festival workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 'Bird Stress in Your Backyard' aims to engage people in how birds are being affected by our rapidly changing environment, how we conduct research to understand these effects, and what we can all do to help.
We will start with a short introduction indoors, where we will introduce why understanding bird stress is important and the detrimental effects it can have on behaviour, the brain and physiology (it might be good to have a microscope and slides of bird brains for attendees to look at).
There will be a short activity, thinking of ideas of what a stressed bird might be like - for adults this would be through discussion, and we will provide children with paper and pens, so they can draw what they think a stressed bird might look like. We will also ask everyone what changes in our environment they think might be affecting birds, in their backyards and beyond.
I will then shortly introduce research which uses animal tracking technologies to understand how bird movements are being affected by changing environments, before we move on to our outdoor activity.
We will split our attendees into small groups, and each group will go out into the woodland area just outside of the Bee academy to track 4 soft toy birds hidden around. We will have attached GPS 'tilemate' trackers to the birds, and we will be using the 'tilemate' app installed on each of the group leaders phones to help track the birds locations.
After the activity, the group will return inside, and we will end with a discussion about what we can all do to help birds cope with changing environments.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://midlothiansciencefestival.com/event/bird-stress-in-your-backyard-3/
 
Description Careers Hive at Edinburgh International Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Careers Hive is an education event by Edinburgh International Science Festival for 11-14 year old school students. Its aim was to showcase the opportunities available for students if they continue to study and have an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). During the 3 day event, over 3,000 students were guided through 3-hour sessions featuring an interactive exhibition, hands-on workshops, and talks by STEM professionals. During their experience they also have the chance to engage with STEM professionals in a question and answer session, where they could ask any questions they wanted about the career of the professional they were paired with.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Kickstart Neuroscience Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The Kickstart summer programme is a 5 day-long initiative aimed at new S6 and S5 school pupils who are planning on returning to complete S6 and who have a potential interest in pursuing study at a Higher Education Institution. Pupils attended a number of academic sessions across a range of disciplines, including our workshop on Neuroscience. We gave a number of short presentations about neuroscience and the research our team carries out at the Roslin Institute, as well as running several activities including 'make your own love potion', brain puzzles and anatomy model demonstrations. We received excellent feedback from the students during and after the event which suggests they have an interest in pursuing neuroscience in the next stage of their study and that they enjoyed the workshop,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Roslin Institute Open Day, Midlothian Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the Midlothian Science Festival, the Roslin Institute holds an annual open day where members of the public are welcome to visit and engage in hands on activities, visit information stands about our research and go on a tour of the building. The aim is to communicate about research at the Institute to people of all ages, and engage them to learn about science and careers in veterinary medicine and research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016