Water@Wayne Seminar: "Oxidative Stress as a Potential Cost of Reproduction and High Social Rank in Cichlid Fish"

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Date: February 20, 2020
Time: 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location: Engineering, College of #1520 | Map
5050 Anthony Wayne
Detroit, MI 48202
Category: Seminar

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The Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to host the next Water@Wayne seminar on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the College of Engineering building, room 1520. The semianr is free and open to the public; registration is requested.

The Water@Wayne Seminar Series presents "Oxidative Stress as a Potential Cost of Reproduction and High Social Rank in Cichlid Fish" with Dr. Peter Dijkstra, assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Central Michigan University.

Dr. Dijkstra received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. from Wageningen University in The Netherlands, where he majored in molecular ecology and fisheries biology. He received his Ph.D. from Groningen University in The Netherlands. Dr. Dijkstra’s dissertation thesis focused on the male-male competition and speciation in East African cichlid fish. The majority of Dr. Dijkstra’s postdoctoral period was spent at the University of Glasgow and the University of Texas at Austin. Here he studied the physiological underpinnings of aggression and sexual signaling in cichlid fish. Dr. Dijkstra has since continued this line of research in his current lab at Central Michigan University. His lab also studies oxidative stress in several organisms from the Great Lakes region.


The social environment can have a major impact on social behavior and physiology. Social status is one of the most important attributes of an individual’s social environment and rank-associated effects on individual physiology has been used to understand the effects of social stress and socioeconomic status (SES) in humans on disease risk. Typically, individuals with low SES or low social status experience increased social stress and disease risk. However, individuals may move up or down the dominance hierarchy. How do changes in social status alter physiology? Oxidative stress can cause cellular damage, and occurs as a consequence of overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in relation to defense mechanism (the antioxidant system). Investment in energetically demanding activities has been predicted to increase oxidative stress, and dominant individuals experience increased levels of oxidative stress in some animal models. However, little is known how changes in the social hierarchy influence oxidative stress. We experimentally induced social instability in the highly social cichlid fish Astatotilapia burtoni by regularly altering the number and spatial arrangements of territorial structures. Remarkably, our social stability treatment influenced the oxidative cost of social dominance in males, although this pattern was highly tissue specific. However, the oxidative cost of reproduction in females was not influenced by the social stability treatment. Using a social opportunity paradigm where we induce a transition from nonterritorial status to territorial status, we show that oxidative stress changes dynamically when males are ascending to high social rank. Our results highlight the need to consider social stability and social rank change when studying the physiological cost of high social rank and reproduction.