The physiological significance of the circadian dynamics of the HPA axis: Interplay between circadian rhythms, allostasis and stress resilience

Circadian time-keeping mechanisms preserve homeostasis by synchronizing internal physiology with predictable variations in the environment and temporally organize the activation of physiological signaling mechanisms to promote survival and optimize the allocation of energetic resources. In this paper, we highlight the importance of the robust circadian dynamics of allostatic mediators, with a focus on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal […]

Actions of glucocorticoids at a seasonal baseline as compared to stress-related levels in the regulation of periodic life processes

For decades, demands associated with the predictable life-history cycle have been considered stressful and have not been distinguished from stress that occurs in association with unpredictable and life-threatening perturbations in the environment. The recent emergence of the concept of allostasis distinguishes behavioral and physiological responses to predictable routines as opposed to unpredictable perturbations, and allows […]

What is in a name? Integrating homeostasis, allostasis and stress


Stress revisited: A critical evaluation of the stress concept

With the steadily increasing number of publications in the field of stress research it has become evident that the conventional usage of the stress concept bears considerable problems. The use of the term ‘stress’ to conditions ranging from even the mildest challenging stimulation to severely aversive conditions, is in our view inappropriate. Review of the […]

A new animal welfare concept based on allostasis

Animal welfare is an increasing issue of public concern and debate. As a result, many countries are reconsidering the way animal welfare is embedded in the legislation and rules for housing and care of animals. This requires general agreement of what animal welfare is. Unfortunately, the current science of animal welfare is less scientific than […]

The Darwinian concept of stress: benefits of allostasis and costs of allostatic load and the trade-offs in health and disease

Why do we get the stress-related diseases we do? Why do some people have flare ups of autoimmune disease, whereas others suffer from melancholic depression during a stressful period in their life? In the present review possible explanations will be given by using different levels of analysis. First, we explain in evolutionary terms why different […]

Food restriction promotes signaling effort in response to social challenge in a short-lived electric fish

Vertebrates exposed to stressful conditions release glucocorticoids to sustain energy expenditure. In most species elevated glucocorticoids inhibit reproduction. However individuals with limited remaining reproductive opportunities cannot afford to forgo reproduction and should resist glucocorticoid-mediated inhibition of reproductive behavior. The electric fish Brachyhypopomus gauderio has a single breeding season in its lifetime, thus we expect males […]

The comparative biology of environmental stress: behavioural endocrinology and variation in ability to cope with novel, changing environments

Coping with perturbations of the environment such as severe storms and other climatic extremes, habitat degradation, changes in predator numbers, invasive species and social disruption is one of the most essential physiological and behavioural processes. The palaeontological record shows that organisms have had to cope with environmental perturbations throughout the history of life on Earth. […]

Effect of predictability on the stress response to chasing in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) parr

The possibility to prepare for and respond to challenges in a proper manner is essential to cope with a changing environment, and learning allows fish to up or downregulate the stress response based on experience. The regulation of the response to predicted needs should be easier in more predictable environments. We exposed salmon parr to […]

Rearing history and allostatic load in adult western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in human care

Disrupted rearing history is a psychological and physical stressor for nonhuman primates, potentially resulting in multiple behavioral and physiological changes. As a chronic, soma-wide stressor, altered rearing may be best assessed using a holistic tool such as allostatic load (AL). In humans, AL estimates outcomes of lifetime stress-induced damage. We predicted mother-reared gorillas would have […]