Neuroendocrine Predictors of Dispersal Behavior
Natal dispersal, or the process of young individuals permanently leaving their birth site, is a behavior commonly found in many mammals; however, much remains unknown regarding the physiological and neuroendocrine mechanisms that facilitate this behavior. For this reason, our project seeks to identify such predictors of dispersal in colonial tuco-tucos, a species of rodent that draws interest due to the variation of individual dispersal decisions observed in juvenile females. Specifically, we seek to characterize behaviors associated with dispersal decisions and determine whether that correlates with differences in the brain. This summer, I will continue to conduct behavioral trials, as well as assist in the analysis of brain tissue using molecular biology techniques like RNAseq to identify differences in gene expression across behavioral phenotypes.