Dr. Sydney Hope graduate with her PhD from the Virginia Tech Department of Fish and Wildlife Science in December 2019. She is conducting postdoctoral research at the Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé in France, studying how subtle changes to the environment in which animals develop can have significant and long-term consequences for their morphology, physiology, behavior, and survival. Currently, Dr. Hope is investigating whether changes in the temperature at which zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) eggs are incubated affect offspring morphology and physiology shortly after hatching, as well as their cognitive abilities and reproductive performance as adults. This research will shed light on how small changes during early-life can potentially have long-term and even multi-generational consequences.
Sydney joined the Hopkins lab in August 2014. Her general research interests included animal behavior and physiology and how they are affected by changes to the environment at all stages in life. She studied wood ducks to investigate how clutch size affects incubation temperature parameters and how differences in incubation temperature affect duckling behaviors that are critical to early survival. In the summer of 2014, the Hopkins lab created model duck eggs with temperature loggers inside them and used these to monitor incubation temperatures throughout the wood duck breeding season at Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Sydney analyzed the temperature data to determine the effects of clutch size on thermal dynamics of the nest as well as behavior of the incubating hens. Sydney also examined the effects of the early environment on offspring development and the effect of incubation temperature on the exploratory and boldness behaviors, neuroendocrinology, nest exodus performance, and competition for heat and food in wood ducklings.