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Blanca Jimeno

Postdoctoral researcher (IREC, UCLM)

Research Themes


I am an integrative biologist with broad experience in ecophysiology and behavioural ecology. My main research interest is developing interdisciplinary approaches to investigate physiological processes and mechanisms underlying organismal responses to environmental challenges.  My work brings together endocrinology, energetics, behavioural ecology and epigenetics in free-living and captive birds, and I aim for it to shape novel approaches for a more integrative and mechanistic understanding of phenotypic plasticity and life-history decisions.

My work currently focuses on two main research lines:

-        The deep impact of early life: I am fascinated by the mechanisms through which early life experiences “footprint” the organisms for life, determining the function and plasticity of physiological systems, and the capacity of to face and overcome challenges. I study molecular and physiological mediators of these processes, focusing on endocrine regulation, gene expression and epigenetic mechanisms, which are key mediators of developmental effects across vertebrates, and fundamental sources of phenotypic plasticity.

-        Revisiting the ecological interpretation of glucocorticoid hormones: Glucocorticoid hormones mediate organismal responses to external and internal, perceived or anticipated challenges. This has traditionally led to them being known as ‘stress hormones’, and widely considered indicators of animal welfare or fitness prospects. Despite this widespread interpretation, we know very little about the causes of the huge variation that these hormones show at different levels (e.g. within- and among- individuals, and among species). Largely overlooked so far by studies focusing exclusively on consequences of this variation, the underlying ecological processes and physiological mechanisms remain poorly understood. This is, however, a fundamental step towards an accurate interpretation of glucocorticoids, their ecological relevance, and their use in ecophysiology and conservation biology. Much of my work has focused on unravelling environmental and internal sources of variation in glucocorticoid hormones, both in the short (e.g. changes in metabolic demands) and in the long term (e.g. early life adversity). My latter research also stresses the need to turn our research focus and efforts towards estimates of glucocorticoids´ dynamic regulation (e.g. changes in receptor expression, stress resilience), instead of working with absolute hormone levels only.

Curriculum Vitae

I obtained my BsC in Biology by the Complutense University (Madrid). Already during my bachelor, I took every opportunity to boost my scientific skills, putting myself in contact with national and international labs. I spent four months as a research student in the Natural Sciences Museum (Madrid) and three months as a research fellow in the Idaho Bird Observatory (US), both of them result of highly competitive grants. I obtained my MsC in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at the Pablo de Olavide University (Sevilla).

My enthusiasm about research took me to do my PhD thesis abroad (Univ. of Groningen in the Netherlands / Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany), which allowed me to expand my expertise into ecophysiology, get involved in teaching and mentoring, and boost my international network. To broaden my research horizon during my PhD, I took the lead carrying out fellowships abroad, including a project on ecological epigenetics funded by international grants.

During my first postdoc at the University of Montana (US) I led parallel field and lab projects on different study species, combining this with mentoring activities and ongoing international collaborations. I have most recently become a member of the Behavioural Ecology and Endocrinology lab as a Juan de la Cierva fellow. My upcoming research will focus on the molecular drivers of early life effects, by investigating the links between early life adversity and the expression of key genes mediating physiological, behavioural and immunological responses to environmental challenges.


Blanca's Google Scholar




- Jimeno, B., Prichard, M. R., Landry, D., Wolf, C., Larkin, B., Cheviron, Z., & Breuner, C. (2020). Metabolic rates predict baseline corticosterone and reproductive output in a free-living passerine. Integrative Organismal Biology.

- Montoya, B., Briga, M., Jimeno, B. & Verhulst, S. A Glucose tolerance test shows the ability to restore glucose homeostasis to be a repeatable trait in zebra finches. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 190, 445-464. 

- Ibañez-Álamo, JD., Jimeno, B., Gil, D., Thomson, RL., Aguirre, JI., Díez-Fernández, A., Faivre, B., Tieleman, I. & Figuerola, J. (2020) Physiological stress does not increase with urbanization in European blackbirds: evidence from hormonal, immunological and cellular indicators. Science of the total environment 721, 137332. 

- Jimeno, B., Hau, M., Gómez-Díaz, E., & Verhulst, S. (2019). Developmental conditions modulate DNA methylation at the glucocorticoid receptor gene with cascading effects on expression and corticosterone levels in zebra finches, Scientific reports 9 (1), 1-11.

- Briga, M., Jimeno, B. & Verhulst, S. (2019). Coupling lifespan and aging? The age at onset of body mass decline associates positively with sex-specific lifespan but negatively with environment-specific lifespan. Experimental Gerontology 119, 111-119

- Jimeno, B., Hau, M. &; Verhulst, S. (2018), Glucocorticoid-temperature association is shaped by foraging environment in individual zebra finches. Journal of Experimental Biology, 221 (23).

- Jimeno, B., Hau, M. & Verhulst, S. (2018). Corticosterone levels reflect variation in metabolic rate, independent of “stress”. Scientific Reports 8 (1), 13020

Montoya, B., Briga, M., Jimeno, B., Moonen, S., & Verhulst, S. (2018). Baseline glucose level is an individual trait that is negatively associated with lifespan and increases due to adverse environmental conditions during development and adulthood. Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 188 (3), 517-526.

- Jimeno, B., Briga, M., Hau, M., & Verhulst, S. (2018). Male but not female zebra finches with high plasma corticosterone have lower survival. Functional Ecology 32(3), 713-721.

- Jimeno, B., Hau, M., & Verhulst, S. (2017). Strong association between corticosterone levels and temperature-dependent metabolic rate in individual zebra finches. Journal of Experimental Biology, 220(23), 4426-4431