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Colby Behrens

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It would be challenging to find someone who became interested in animal behavior at a younger age than Colby Behrens, a current PhD candidate in the Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior department. Growing up on a dairy farm in northeast Iowa, Behrens says he learned early on the importance of understanding the behavioral cues of animals.

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Can parental care influence sperm-mediated effects in threespine sticklebacks?

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Animals can influence their offspring through multiple signals starting from fertilization to after birth. However, researchers have seldom looked at how these different signals work together to influence behavior. In a new study, postdoctoral researcher Jennifer Hellmann in the Bell lab investigated how changes in sperm and paternal care influence the offspring of threespine sticklebacks.

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Fish fathers exhibit signatures of “baby brain” that may aid parental behavior

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Many new parents are familiar with terms like “baby brain” or “mommy brain” that hint at an unavoidable decline in cognitive function associated with the hormonal changes of pregnancy, childbirth, and maternal caregiving. A new study of parental care in stickleback fish is a reminder that such parenting-induced changes in the brain and associated shifts in cognition and behavior are not just for females—and they’re not just for mammals either.

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Brief interactions spur lasting waves of gene activity in the brain

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A five-minute encounter with an outsider spurs a cascade of changes in gene activity in the brain that can last for hours, researchers report in a study of stickleback fish.

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New grant to study fish genomics, behavior

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The three-spined stickleback is a funny sort of a fish. They’re somewhat non-distinct: drabbish silver, small, and minnow-like, native to salt- and freshwater bodies throughout most of the Northern hemisphere. However, different stickleback populations have evolved very distinct morphological traits, demonstrating a natural diversity that makes them an ideal candidate in which to examine the mechanics of adaptive evolution and ecology.

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