arrow grid linear view icon
Search

You are here

Maren Vitousek

Assistant Professor

Dale R Corson Bio Science Wing, Room E237
mnv6@cornell.edu
607-254-4529

Educational Background

Ph.D., Princeton University (2008)

B.A., Amherst College (2002)

Website(s)

Overview

My research program addresses how organisms cope with challenges and changes in the environment. Rapid flexibility in behavior and physiology is a crucial component of an effective response to stressors. Yet there is remarkable variation within and across populations in the flexibility of phenotypic traits, as well as in the ability to survive and reproduce when facing challenges. Why do individuals respond to the same stressor in markedly different ways? Why are some populations more phenotypically flexible than others? How does selection shape physiological and behavioral traits, and their flexibility? Our lab addresses these fundamental questions by investigating the function, development, and evolution of hormonal and behavioral traits across differing ecological contexts.

I teach in BioEE 1780: Introduction to Evolutionary Biology and Diversity, BioEE 4661: Physiological Ecology, and BioEE 7650: Special Topics in Evolution and Ecology: Professional Development. 

Keywords

Endocrinology, behavior, stress, physiology, evolution, phenotypic flexibility, sexual selection, signaling

Departments/Programs

  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Graduate Fields

  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Neurobiology and Behavior

Research

Our lab studies the mechanisms of phenotypic flexibility, with a particular emphasis on the response to challenges. Many of our members use tree swallows as a model species, with ongoing research in both a large local breeding population, and through comparative studies in populations breeding across North America, from Alaska to Tennessee. Students are also addressing similar questions in other systems, including in captive insects. We are currently focused on three major research areas: 1) Why some individuals – and some populations – cope with challenges better than others, 2) How social interactions and stressors change the biology of individuals that experience them, and 3) How endocrine traits evolve through natural and sexual selection.

Courses

Publications

  • Vitousek MN, Taff CC, Ardia DA, Stedman JS, Zimmer C, and Winkler DW. 2018. The lingering impact of stress: brief acute glucocorticoid exposure has sustained, dose-dependent effects on reproduction. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 285: 20180722.
  • Taff CC, Zimmer C, and Vitousek MN. 2018. Efficacy of negative feedback in the HPA axis predicts recovery from acute challenges. Biology Letters 14: 20180131.
  • Vitousek MN, Taff CC, Hallinger KK, Zimmer C, and Winkler DW. 2018. Hormones and fitness: Evidence for trade-offs in glucocorticoid regulation across contexts. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 6(42): 1-14.
  • Injaian AS, Taff CC, Pearson KL, Gin MMY, Patricelli GL, and Vitousek MN. 2018. Experimental chronic traffic noise exposure alters adult and nestling corticosterone levels, and reduces nestling body condition in a free-living bird. Hormones and Behavior: In press.
  • Taff CC, Schoenle L, and Vitousek MN. 2018. The repeatability of glucocorticoids: a review and meta-analysis. General and Comparative Endocrinology 260: 136-145.
  • Schoenle LA, Zimmer C, and Vitousek MN. 2018. Understanding context-dependence in glucocorticoid-fitness relationships: the role of the nature of the challenge, the intensity and frequency of stressors, and life history. Integrative and Comparative Biology: In press.
  • Vitousek MN, and Schoenle L. 2018. Hormones and behavior: A life history perspective. The Oxford Handbook on Evolutionary Psychology and Behavioral Endocrinology (Eds: Welling LLM, Shackleford TK). In press.
  • Vitousek MN^, Johnson MA^, Donald JW, Francis CD, Fuxjager MJ, Goymann W, Hau M, Husak JF, Kircher BK**, Knapp R, Martin LB, Miller ET, Schoenle LA, Uehling JJ, and Williams TD. 2018. HormoneBase: A population-level database of steroid hormone levels across vertebrates. Scientific Data: 5:180097.  ^co-first authors
  • Vitousek MN, Johnson MA, Husak JF. 2018. Illuminating endocrine evolution: the power and potential of large-scale comparative analyses. Integrative and Comparative Biology: In press.
  • Johnson MA, Francis CD, Miller ET, Downs CJ, and Vitousek MN. 2018. Detecting bias in large-scale comparative analysis: methods for expanding the scope of hypothesis-testing with HormoneBase. Integrative and Comparative Biology: In press.
  • Miles MC, Vitousek MN, Husak JF, Johnson MA, Martin LB, Taff CC, Zimmer C, Lovern MB, and Fuxjager MJ. 2018. Standing variation and the capacity for change: are endocrine phenotypes more variable than other traits? Integrative and Comparative Biology: In press.
  • Martin LB, Vitousek MN, Donald J, Flock T, Fuxjager MJ, Goymann W, Hau M, Husak JF, Johnson MA, Kircher B, Knapp R, Miller ET, Schoenle LA, Williams TD, and Francis CD. 2018. IUCN conservation status does not predict glucocorticoid concentrations in reptiles and birds. Integrative and Comparative Biology: In press.
  • Francis, CD, Donald J, Downs C, Fuxjager MJ, Goymann W, Hau M, Husak JF, Johnson MA, Kircher B, Knapp R, Martin LB, Miller ET, Schoenle LA, Vitousek MN, and Williams TD. 2018. Metabolic scaling of stress hormones in vertebrates. Integrative and Comparative Biology: In press.
  • Garamszegi LZ, Donald J, Francis CD, Fuxjager MJ, Goymann W, Hau M, Husak JF, Johnson MA, Kircher B, Knapp R, Martin LB, Miller ET, Schoenle LA, Vitousek MN, and Williams TD. 2018. Species specific means and within-species variance in glucocorticoid hormones and speciation rate in birds. Integrative and Comparative Biology: In press.  
  • Casagrande S, Garamszegi LZ, Goymann W, Donald J, Francis CD, Fuxjager MJ, Husak JF, Johnson MA, Kircher B**, Knapp R, Martin LB, Miller ET, Schoenle LA, Vitousek MN, Williams TD, and Hau M. 2018. Do seasonal glucocorticoid changes depend on reproductive investment? A comparative approach in birds. Integrative and Comparative Biology: In press.
  • Stedman JM, Hallinger KK, Winkler DW, and Vitousek MN. 2017. Heritable variation in glucocorticoid flexibility in a free-living passerine. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 30 (9): 1724-1735.
  • Kelly AM, and Vitousek MN. 2017. Dynamic modulation of sociality and aggression: an examination of plasticity within endocrine and neuroendocrine systems. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 372: 2016.0243.
  • Vitousek MN, Jenkins BR, Hubbard JK, Kaiser SA, and Safran RJ. 2017. An experimental test of the effect of brood size on glucocorticoid responses, parental investment, and offspring phenotype. General and Comparative Endocrinology 247: 97-106.
  • Vitousek MN, Tomášek O, Albrecht T, Wilkins M, and Safran RJ. 2016. Signal traits and oxidative stress: a comparative study across populations with divergent signals. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 4:56.
  • Taff CC, and Vitousek MN. 2016. Endocrine flexibility: optimizing phenotypes in a dynamic world? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 31(6): 476-488