The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Associate Professor of Biology Kathleen Lynch a $997,000 five-year grant for her research: “Examining the disconnect between prolactin and parental care in avian brood parasites.”
Prolactin is often referred to as the “parental hormone” because there is a clear and well-established role for this hormone in maintaining parental behavior in many animals. Yet, there is a seasonal prolactin peak in avian brood parasites. These are birds that leave their eggs in nests of different species rather than build their own nest, incubate their own eggs and feed their own newborns. Elevated prolactin in species that provide no help to their offspring indicates that circulating prolactin levels may be insufficient or misleading in assessing how levels of this hormone motivate parental care. Dr. Lynch’s studies examines the disconnect between prolactin and parental care in avian brood parasites.
Dr. Lynch’s other scholarly activities include serving as a program officer for the division of Animal Behavior at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology and as a 2020 symposium organizer for International Society for Neuroethology. She is also an associate editor for The Auk, a journal published by The American Ornithological Society.