APS Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology

The Good, the Bad, and the Stressful: What is Stress Really Doing?

Symposium — Wednesday, April 28, 2021 — 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM — Virtual Session, Room APS-4
Comparative & Evolutionary Physiology Section — Chair: Lizzette D Cambron — Co-Chair:

Stress has historically been viewed as having a negative impact on the physiology of animals across a wide range of taxa. However, over time research has shown that the effects of stress are more complicated than originally thought. The impacts of stress differ depending on the sex of the animal, the duration of exposure to the stressor, and even by the developmental stage in which the stress occurs. To further complicate things, even the stress experienced by parents may impact their offspring’s fitness. On the other hand, in some cases, stress may be beneficial, i.e., hormesis. Prior exposure to stressful environments or low doses of toxins has been shown to have positive effects on animal responses to subsequent stressors, such as increased performance or survival. As stress-related diseases become more prevalent, understanding stress and its effects on disease outcomes and prevention is crucial.Furthermore, predicting how environmental stress from climate change will impact vertebrate and invertebrate populations requires a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the stress response across animals. However, this raises the question of how to ethically test effects of stress in animal populations. In this session, we discuss the mechanisms of stress and hormesis in animals from ectotherms to humans, and whether our view of stress needs to change.


  • Effects of Nutritional Stress During Different Developmental Periods on Song and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in Zebra Finches
    Haruka Wada — Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics

  • Hormesis: When Environmental Stress Improves Organismal Performance and Fitness
    Giancarlo Lopez-Martinez — Department of Biological Sciences, North Dakota State University

  • Defining Hormesis
    Carl B. Schreck — Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University

  • Mechanisms and Consequences of Stress Responses in Ectotherms
    Caroline Williams — Department of Integrative Biology, University of California Berkeley

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