I am interested in the interaction between
reproductive hormones and behavior. Reproductive behavior is coordinated and
influenced by a variety of inputs including environmental, hormonal,
developmental and genetic components. In
fish we understand a good deal about how environmental and hormonal factors
influence reproductive behavior. Classic
ablation and replacement experiments have revealed the roles of various hormonal
and nervous components in coordinating reproductive behavior.
Very few studies have investigated the interplay
between genetic abnormalities in the development of nervous and endocrine
tissues and later reproductive behavior. Our
knowledge of zebrafish genetics, their short development cycle, ease of
breeding, and hardiness in the laboratory make them a great model for learning
about nervous and endocrine influences on courtship and spawning behavior
In my laboratory we are completely characterizing
the courtship and spawning behavior of zebrafish in large and small groups with
different male and female combinations, different environmental conditions
(substrate, tank shape, light , temperature).
A complete ethogram for both male and female reproductive will allow for
the screening of reproductive mutants sent by many different laboratories.
It will eventually result in a greater understanding the effects of basic
endocrine and nervous substrates on reproductive behavior.
This system will also produce a model system for assessment of
reproductive difficulties in species of commercial fish.
In North Carolina alone we produce five different species of commercial
fish that generate and large annual revenue.
Yet the existing methods of propagation are primitive and difficulties in
reproduction are not assessed at the genetic level.
Identifying the influences of hormonal and nervous mutations on
subsequent reproductive success will deliver an assessment tool that will pave
the way to do genetic troubleshooting of problems with broodstock reproduction.
Striped Bass Spawning Video 1
Striped Bass Spawning Video 2
Shannon is studying the
effects of pesticides on acetylcholinesterase and carboxylesterase
levels in brain tissue of zebrafish. She is also studying the
its effects on courtship behavior, and fecundity.