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Integrating animal behaviour into research on multiple environmental stressors: a conceptual framework
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  • Laura Lopez,
  • Michael Gil,
  • Philip Crowley,
  • Pete Trimmer,
  • Amelia Munson,
  • Isaac Ligocki,
  • Marcus Michelangeli,
  • Andrew Sih
Laura Lopez
University of Michigan
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Michael Gil
University of Colorado
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Philip Crowley
University of Kentucky
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Pete Trimmer
University of Warwick
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Amelia Munson
University of California
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Isaac Ligocki
Millersville University
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Marcus Michelangeli
University of California
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Andrew Sih
University of California
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While a large body of research has focused on the physiological effects of multiple environmental stressors, behavioral effects remain far less studied. However, behavioural plasticity can not only directly drive responses to stressors but can also mediate physiological responses. Here, we provide a conceptual framework incorporating four fundamental tradeoffs explicitly linking animal behaviour to life history-based pathways for energy allocation, shaping the impact of multiple stressors on fitness. We first address how small-scale behavioural changes can drive conflicts between the effects of multiple stressors and alternative physiological responses. We then discuss how animal behaviour gives rise to three additional understudied and interrelated trade-offs: balancing the benefits and risks of obtaining the energy needed to cope with stressors, allocation of energy between life-history traits and stressor responses, and larger-scale escape from stressors in space or time via dispersal or dormancy. Finally, we outline how these trade-offs interactively affect fitness and qualitative ecological outcomes resulting from multiple stressors. Our framework suggests that animal behavior could underlie the extensive context dependence in results from stressor research, highlighting promising avenues for future empirical and theoretical research.