Nikole Freeman

PhD Candidate (2014-present)


The early life environment can have profound effects on an individual’s growth and development. Recent studies suggest that stress exposure in development has lifelong consequences in the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the fitness of an individual. For my PhD, I am examining proximate and ultimate hypotheses regarding the effect of early-life environmental conditions in a winter breeding bird. Using Gray Jays as a model, I am combining field and laboratory techniques to determine if the early life history, including HPA axis activity, body condition, and the trophic level from which nestlings receive food, influences their recruitment into the population. I will also be examining how adult HPA reactivity influences reproductive performance.


Freeman, NE, Norris, DR, Sutton, AO & Newman AEM. 2020. Raising young with limited resources: supplementation improves body condition and advances fledging date of Canada Jays. In press: Ecology

Ralston, J, Lorenc, L, Montes, M, DeLuca, WV, Kirchman, JJ, Woodworth, BK, MacKenzie, SA, Newman, AEM, Cooke, H, Freeman, NE, Sutton, AO, Tauzer, L & Norris, DR. 2019. Length polymorphisms at two candidate genes explain variation in migratory behaviors of blackpoll warblers. Ecology & Evolution 9(15):8840-8855.

Sutton, AO, Strickland, D, Freeman, NE, Newman, AEM & Norris, DR. 2019. Fall freeze-thaw events carry over to depress late-winter reproductive performance in Canada Jays. Royal Society, Open Science 6:181754.

DeLuca, WV, Woodworth, BK, Mackenzie, SA, Newman, AEM, Cooke, H, Phillips, LM, Freeman, NE, Sutton, AO, Tauzer, L, McIntyre, C, Stenhouse, I, Weidensaul, S, Taylor, PD & Norris, DR. 2019. A boreal songbird’s 20,000 km migration across North America and the Atlantic Ocean. Ecology 100(5):e02651

Freeman NE & Newman AEM. 2018. Quantifying corticosterone in feathers: validations for an emerging technique. Conservation Physiology 6(1):coy051

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