Intersexual variability of the response to environmental stress

Environmental disturbances currently challenge species’ flexibility, sometimes revealing limits in their resilience capacities. Recent observations support the “Thrifty female hypothesis” that awards better stress response mechanisms to females, linking higher reproductive constraints to this phenomenon as females should be adapted to important physiological challenges. This gap in coping mechanisms (behavioural and physiological) between male and females is nevertheless poorly studied. Here we choose the Gray Mouse lemur Microcebus murinus as a modela small nocturnal primate remarkable for its adapted and synchronized physiology to seasonal rhythms, and its rare longevity. Strong phenotypic variations make their physiological flexibility easily identifiable; in this regard we focus on the torpor mechanisms which are known to be adaptive strategies to survive winter or dry season. An integrative behavioural and physiological study will investigate intersexual variation in energy saving strategies and their relative fitness. We include oxidative stress production and telomere shortening as markers of stress managment’s efficacy.

This study relies on ecological problematics, evolutionary theories and physiological methods of investigation, thus drawing interdisciplinary perspectives.