Does what doesn’t kill you, really make you stronger? by Amelia Munson

Amelia Munson

UC Davis | Lakeside Foundation/Niantic Charitable Trust

Amelia Munson is broadly interested in how experiences shape behavior in fish. She has traditionally focused on whether negative experiences prepare individuals for future challenges or doom them to a life of disadvantage. Recently she had broadened her research to consider the beneficial impact of positive experiences like strong social groups.


While much is known about the effect of a single stressor on a variety of behavioral and physiological measures, there is increasing interest in the effect of multiple stressors on animal fitness. Critically, the experiences that an individual has during development may influence later responses to changes in the environment. Understanding how patterns of experience with multiple stressors can lead to increased or decreased susceptibility to future stressors is particularly important in the light of human induced rapid environmental change when animals are likely to experience novel stressors. During their first month of life, I exposed Western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) fry to either oscillating temperatures, predator cue, or a combination of the two. At sexual maturity, I tested their behavioral responses to novel and known predators at two different temperatures. The goal of these experiments was to determine whether experience with stress during development has long term effects and whether those effects are stressor specific or more general.


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