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Boonstra wins award as a leader in mammalian ecology and physiology

UTSC biology professor Rudy Boonstra received the 2013 C. Hart Merriam award for his research into how animals cope with change and challenge in the face of both environmental certainty and uncertainty.

Boonstra is Director of the Centre for the Neurobiology of Stress in the Department of Biological Sciences at UTSC.  He is particularly well-known for his work on the role stress plays in evolutionary adaptations to particular ecological pressures, such as predation and population density.

The American Society of Mammalogists gives the award in recognition of outstanding and sustained research in mammalogy over a period of at least 10 years. Boonstra’s work has been cited thousands of times, and the committee credits his seminal research with inspiring the field “ecology of fear.”

“If animals experience severe chronic stress, does that have demographic consequences?” Boonstra asks. “That appears to be the case.” Understanding the impact of stress on animals can help us understand how to conserve endangered species, he says.

His field-based research has taken place throughout Canada, with a particular focus in the Yukon at the Arctic Institute Base and western Canada.  He has also conducted fundamental studies on mammal population regulation and limitation, on community ecology, and on neurogenesis.

Boonstra will present at next year’s American Society of Mammalogists annual meeting in Oklahoma City. 

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