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Michael C. Moore, Ph.D.
Dr. Moore teaches Introductory Biology, Physiology and Endocrinology.
Dr. Moore is an integrative systems biologist working at the interface between behavior, neuroscience, physiology and ecology. He is interested in the reproductive biology of vertebrates, especially the neuroendocrine regulation of reproduction and reproductive behavior. He studies natural populations of free-living animals, because many natural social behaviors are only seen in wild animals. In the past he has worked extensively on behavioral neuroendocrinology of aggression in lizards. However, he is currently interested in how the endocrine system regulates tradeoffs between investments in immunie function and in reproduction and is working on these problems in two species of wild birds, House Sparrows and Tree Swallows.
A major challenge for integrative biology is to understand how organisms allocate resources between competing activities that affect fitness, such as growth, reproduction and immunity. Central to this challenge is understanding physiological mechanisms underlying these allocation decisions. Dr Moore is investigating a potential signal of body condition that could mediate resource allocation. He is conducting a complementary series of laboratory and field experiments to study the physiological mediation of investment of resources in two widely studied birds, House Sparrows and Tree Swallows.
Life history tradeoffs have historically been viewed as a conflict between investment in growth and reproduction. This view was transformed by the discovery that an immune response is costly and uses both energy and nutrient reserves. The new discipline of "ecoimmunology" emerged to study how investments in immunity factor into life history decisions. However, the underlying physiological mechanisms of such tradeoffs are poorly known and their identification would represent a critical advance. These tradeoffs vary according to body condition and involve "lipostatic" signals that indicate whether the body is in good condition or not. The most studied of such “lipostatic” signals is the hormone leptin which is produced by fat tissue and signals long term energy balance (fat accumulation). A second, less well studied, lipostatic hormone is ghrelin. Ghrelin is secreted primarily by the stomach after short-term food deprivation and is therefore a signal of short term energy balance and recent foraging success.
Dr Moore's laboratory is using House Sparrows to study the basic biology of ghrelin in a wild animal, the first time this hormone has been studied in anything other than a laboratory rodent or domestic bird. They are looking at the relationships between plasma ghrelin levels and both food consumption and immunity. The basic hypothesis is that ghrelin will increase when birds are not getting enough to eat and this will suppress immunity so that resources can be diverted to other functions. They are also conducting naturalistic field studies using a population of Tree Swallows that are nesting in bird boxes they have provided. They are particularly interested in this species because it forages exclusively on flying insects, a notoriously unpredictable resource. Tree Swallows regularly experience food shortages during cool weather or storms. They are interested in how ghrelin regulates the allocation of resources in breeding Tree Swallows among immunity, reproduction and parental effort and how it might therefore help adapt the birds to these food shortages.
Ian Stewart - Postdoctoral Research Associate
- French SS, Moore, MC, and Demas GE. Ecological immunology: The organism in context. Integrative and Comparative Biology 2009; 49 (3):246-253.
- French, SS and Moore, MC. Immune function varies with reproductive stage and context in female and male tree lizards, Urosaurus ornatus. General and Comparative Endocrinology 2008; 155 (1):148-156.
- Kabelik, D., Weiss S.L., and Moore, M.C. Steroid hormones alter neuroanatomy and aggression independently in the tree lizard. Physiology and Behavior, 2008; 93:492-501.
- Kabelik, D., Crombie, T., and Moore, M.C. Aggression frequency and intensity, independent of testosterone levels, relate to neural activation within the dorsolateral subdivision of the ventromedial hypothalamus in the tree lizard, Urosaurus ornatus. Hormones and Behavior, 2008; 54:18-27.
- Kabelik, D., Weiss S.L., and Moore, M.C. Agrinine Vasotocin (AVT) immunoreactivity relates to testosterone but not territorial aggression the tree lizard, Urosaurus ornatus. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 2008; 72:283-294.
- French S.S, H.B. Fokidis, and M.C. Moore. Variation in stress and innate immunity in the tree lizard (Urosaurus ornatus) across an urban-rural gradient. Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 2008: 178:997-1005.
- Moore, M.C. and G.I.H. Johnston. Toward a dynamic model of yolk steroid deposition and utilization. Integrative and Compartive Biology, 2008; 48:411-418
- French SS, DeNardo DF, Moore MC. Trade-offs between the reproductive and immune systems: facultative responses to resources or obligate responses to reproduction. Am Nat. 2007;170(1):79–89.
- Weiss SL, Johnston G, Moore MC. Corticosterone stimulates hatching of late-term tree lizard embryos. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2007;146(3):360–365.
- French SS, Matt KS, Moore MC. The effects of stress on wound healing in male tree lizards (Urosaurus ornatus). Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2006;145(2):128–132.
- Kabelik D, Weiss SL, Moore MC. Steroid hormone mediation of limbic brain plasticity and aggression in free-living tree lizards, Urosaurus ornatus. Horm Behav. 2006;49(5):587–597.
- Crews D, Moore MC. Historical contributions of research on reptiles to behavioral neuroendocrinology. Horm Behav. 2005;48(4):384–394.
- Painter DL, Moore MC. Steroid hormone metabolism by the chorioallantoic placenta of the mountain spiny lizard Sceloporus jarrovi as a possible mechanism for buffering maternal-fetal hormone exchange. Physiol Biochem Zool. 2005;78(3):364–372.
- Jennings DH, Painter DL, Moore MC. Role of the adrenal gland in early post-hatching differentiation of alternative male phenotypes in the tree lezard (Urosaurus ornatus). Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2004;135(1):81–89.
- Weiss SL, Moore MC. Activation of aggressive behavior by progesterone and testosterone in male tree lizards, Urosaurus ornatus. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2004;136(2):282–288.
- Knapp R, Hews DK, Thompson CW, Ray LE, Moore MC. Environmental and endocrine correlates of tactic switching by nonterritorial male tree lizards (Urosaurus ornatus). Horm Behav. 2003;43(1):83–92.
- Summers CH, Summers TR, Moore MC, et al. Temporal patterns of limbic monoamine and plasma corticosterone response during social stress. Neuroscience. 2003;116(2):553–563.
- Woodley SK, Painter DL, Moore MC, Wikelski M, Romero LM. Effect of tidal cycle and food intake on the baseline plasma corticosterone rhythm in intertidally foraging marine iguanas. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2003;132(2):216–222.
Phone: (302) 831-2290
Fax: (302) 831-2281
Office: 319 Wolf Hall
Lab: 340 Wolf Hall
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716
- B.A. - Indiana University
- Ph.D. - University of Washington
- Postdoctoral - University of Texas, Austin