Integrating theoretical and empirical approaches for a robust understanding of endocrine flexibility

Jennifer L. Grindstaff, Lynne E. Beaty, Medhavi Ambardar, Barney Luttbeg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)


There is growing interest in studying hormones beyond single ‘snapshot’ measurements, as recognition that individual variation in the endocrine response to environmental change may underlie many rapid, coordinated phenotypic changes. Repeated measures of hormone levels in individuals provide additional insight into individual variation in endocrine flexibility – that is, how individuals modulate hormone levels in response to the environment. The ability to quickly and appropriately modify phenotype is predicted to be favored by selection, especially in unpredictable environments. The need for repeated samples from individuals can make empirical studies of endocrine flexibility logistically challenging, but methods based in mathematical modeling can provide insights that circumvent these challenges. Our Review introduces and defines endocrine flexibility, reviews existing studies, makes suggestions for future empirical work, and recommends mathematical modeling approaches to complement empirical work and significantly advance our understanding. Mathematical modeling is not yet widely employed in endocrinology, but can be used to identify innovative areas for future research and generate novel predictions for empirical testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjeb243408
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
StatePublished - Mar 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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