Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Dr Lindsay Henderson

Marie Slowdowska-Curie IF Fellow

Background

I have recently begun a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellowship at Newcastle University to investigate the neural and endocrine mechanisms the underpin hoarding behaviour in the coal tit, Periparus ater. With Timothy Boswell and Tom Smulders. 


Academic History

  • Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, The University of Glasgow, UK, Supervisors: Dr Kathryn Arnold and Prof Neil Evans
  • MRes in Ecology and Environmental Management, The University of York, UK
  • BSc (Hons) Zoology, The University of Glasgow, UK


Research

The evolution of food hoarding: from environmental pressures to brain mechanisms #HOARDEVOL

The emergence of novel behaviours not only provides insight into the selective pressures which cause behaviours to evolve, but also provides an opportunity to understand how existing physiological and neurological mechanisms can be modified to control them. Some species have evolved to store rather than consume food while availability is high, for consumption when food is scarce. This behaviour is called food hoarding and is present in multiple taxa. Key physiological and neurological mechanisms have been shown to underpin an animal’s motivation to hoard food, including the stress hormone corticosterone (cort) and consumption regulating neuropeptides, neuropeptide Y (NPY) and agouti-related protein (AgRP). However, whether variation in cort, NPY and AgRP, or an interaction between them regulates hoarding behaviour is yet to be examined. This project will experimentally address these knowledge gaps using two closely related bird species that live in social groups during winter when hoarding motivation is high: the food hoarding coal tit,Periparus ater, and the non-hoarding great tit, Parus major. This project will identify the hypothalamic regions activated during high hoarding motivation between a hoarding and non-hoarding species, and examine whether cort, NPY and AgRP receptor density, and NPY/AgRP expression within these regions is linked to hoarding behaviour.

Publications