The title sounded cuter in my head than in reality--oops. Regardless, I'm finally making the trip to the biggest of bird conferences later this week!! Come see me around D.C. or at my poster this Thursday, 5-7 PM, titled "Exploring the role of carotenoid pigments in immune and antioxidant function using carotenoid- and ornament-free birds." While the data in the poster is still preliminary (I'm in and out of the lab and aviary every day at work on the results!), I'm excited to get a chance to share the patterns I've been finding in my canary colony. After spending four years averting crisis after crisis at the aviary, I'm beyond relieved to have some data from my little birds.
Besides NAOC, a lack of recent news updates does not mean a lack of news! I'm amazed that I've finally gotten to this point, but my tenth manuscript (8th first-author) has been accepted and is in Early View in Biological Reviews. Working off of ideas proposed in one of Geoff's early papers on the importance of mitochondria to ecological and behavioral research, I delved deep into the (even deeper) pool of biomedical research to flesh out exactly how mitochondria are critical to strong immune function in animals. With the help of our local hormone expert, co-author, and fellow grad student Chloe Josefson, the paper also addresses mito-hormone interactions, and re-articulates some hypotheses for how mitochondria may even have direct involvement in the production of ornaments themselves. My aim for this paper is primarily to provide an accessible resource for behavioral ecologists like me--those of us who study immunocompetence or oxidative stress maintenance, but can't afford the time to sink hours into the biomedical literature to learn about mitochondria.