Creagh Breuner

Creagh Breuner

Associate Dean / Professor

Home Department: Biological Sciences
Office: HS 105

Personal Website

Current Position

Professor, Organismal Biology and Ecology and Wildlife Biology


Bachelors of Science: University of Washington, 1991

PhD: University of Washington, 1998

Research Interests

Animals live in rapidly changing and unpredictable environments. My research focuses on the behavioral and physiological changes that occur in response to unpredictable events (stressors), the hormonal and cellular mechanisms that underlie these changes, and the ecological repercussions of these changes for animals in their natural environment. I focus my studies on the adrenocortical response to stress, and the behavioral and cellular actions of glucocorticoids.

Field of Study

Behavioral Endocrinology

Selected Publications

Berk, SA, JR McGettrick, WK Hansen, and CW Breuner (2016) Methodological considerations for measuring glucocorticoid metabolites in feathers. Conservation Physiology 4(1): cow020; doi:10.1093/conphys/cow020.

Hansen, WH, Bate, LJ, Landry, D., Chastel, O, Parenteau, C, Breuner, CW (2016) Feather and faecal corticosterone concentrations predict future reproductive decision in harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) Conservation Physiology 4(1): cow015 doi: 10.1093/conphys/cow015

Lattin, CR, CW Breuner, and LM Romero (2016) Do corticosteroids delay breeding onset in free-living vertebrates?: Evidence from hormone titers, negative feedback, plasma binding proteins, enzymes and receptors.  Hormones and Behavior 78:107-120

Crino, OL and CW Breuner (2015) Developmental stress: evidence for positive phenotypic and fitness effects in birds. Journal of Ornithology DOI: 10.1007/s10336-015-1236-z

Zylberberg, M, EP Derryberry, CW Breuner, EA Macdougall-Shackleton, JM Cornelius, and TP Hahn (2015) Haemoproteus infected birds have increased lifetime reproductive success Parasitology 142:1033-1043

Crino, OL, CT Prather, SC Driscoll, JM Good, and CW Breuner (2014) Developmental stress increases reproductive success in male zebra finches Proceedings of the Royal Society, B 281:20141266;; this paper was highlighted at

Crino, OL, SC Driscoll, R Ton, and CW Breuner (2014) Corticosterone exposure during development improves performance on a novel foraging task in zebra finches.  Animal Behavior 91:27-32

Cornelius, JM, M Zylberberg, CW Breuner, and TP Hahn (2014) Assessing the role of reproduction and stress in the spring emergence of Haematozoan parasites in birds.  Journal of Experimental Biology 217:841-849

Crino, OL, SC Driscoll, and CW Breuner (2014) Developmental stress has sustained but not lifelong effects on body size and total and free corticosterone responses in the zebra finch.  General and Comparative Endocrinology 196:123-129

Patterson, SH, TP Hahn, JM Cornelius, and CW Breuner (2014) Natural selection and glucocorticoid physiology.  Journal of Evolutionary Biology doi: 10.1111/jeb.12286

Cornelius, JM, T Boswell, S. Jenni-Eiermann, CW Breuner, M Ramenofsky (2013) Contributions of endocrinology to the migration life history of birds General and Comparative Endocrinology190; 47-60

Crino, O, EE Johnson, JL Blickley, GL Patricelli*, and CW Breuner*  (2013) The effects of experimentally elevated traffic noise on nestling white-crowned sparrow physiology, immune function and life-history  Journal of Experimental Biology 216; 2055-2062  *co-principal investigators

Breuner, CW, RS Sprague, SH Patterson, and HA Woods (2013) Environment, Physiology and Behavior:  can birds use barometric pressure to predict storms?  Journal of Experimental Biology 216:1982-1990; doi:10.1242/jeb.081067; Inside JEB column concerning this research: doi: 10.1242/jeb.088740

Breuner, CW, B Delehanty and R Boonstra (2013).  Current problems in quantifying stress in natural populations of vertebrates: total CORT is not good enough.  Functional Ecology 27: 24-36;  DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12016

Cornelius, J., C Breuner and T Hahn (2012). Coping with the extremes:  Stress physiology varies among winter and summer in breeding opportunists. Biology Letters 8:312-315 doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0865

Lattin, CR, K Waldron-Francis, JW Richardson, R de Bruijn, CM Bauer, CW Breuner and LM Romero (2012).  Pharmacological characterization of intracellular glucocorticoid receptors in nine house sparrow tissues.  General and Comparative Endocrinology 179: 214-220

Crino, OL, B Klaassen Van Oorschot, Johnson, EE, JL Malisch and CW Breuner (2011) Proximity to a high traffic road:  Glucocorticoid and life history consequences for nestling white-crowned sparrows.  General and Comparative Endocrinology 173; 323-332

Cornelius, JM, N Perfito, R Zaun, CW Breuner, and TP Hahn (2011) Physiological trade-offs in self-maintenance: plumage molt and stress physiology in birds.  Journal of Experimental Biology214: 2768-2777

Patterson, SH, DW Winkler, and CW Breuner (2011) Glucocorticoids, individual quality and reproductive investment in a passerine bird.  Animal Behavior  81:1239-1247

Whitman, BA, CW Breuner, and AM Dufty, Jr. (2011)  The effects of neonatal handling on adrenocortical responsiveness, morphological development and corticosteroid binding globulin in nestling American kestrels (Falco sparveriusGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology 172: 260-267

Wada, H and CW Breuner (2010)  Developmental changes in neural corticosteroid receptor binding capacity in altricial nestlings  Developmental Neurobiology  277: 2399-2404

Breuner, CW (2010) Stress and Reproduction in Birds.  In: DO Norris (Ed.) Hormones and Reproduction in Vertebrates.  Vol 4, chapter 5; Elsevier, Oxford

Cornelius, JM, CW Breuner and TP Hahn (2010)  Under a neighbour’s influence: public information affects stress hormones and behavior of a songbird.  Proceedings of the Royal Society B 277: 2399-2404

Schmidt, KS, JL Malisch, CW Breuner* and KK Soma* (2010) Corticosterone and cortisol binding sites in plasma, immune organs and brain of developing zebra finches: intracellular and membrane-associated receptors Brain, Behavior and Immunity 24:908-918                                                                 *co-principal investigators

Sprague, RS and CW Breuner (2010) Timing of fledging is influenced by glucocorticoid physiology in Laysan albatross chicks Hormones and Behavior  58: 297-305

Malisch, JL and CW Breuner  (2010)  Steroid binding proteins and free steroids in birds Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 316: 42-52

Malisch, JL, DG Satterlee, JF Cockrem, H Wada, H, and CW Breuner (2010) How acute is the acute stress response?  Baseline corticosterone and corticosteroid-binding globulin levels change 24 hours after an acute stressor in Japanese quail.  General and Comparative Endocrinology 165:345-350

Almasi, B, A Roulin, S Jenni-Eierrmann, CW Breuner, and L Jenni (2009) Regulation of free corticosterone and CBG capacity under different environmental conditions in altricial nestlings.  General and Comparative Endocrinology 164: 117-124

Swett, MB and CW Breuner (2009)  Plasma Testosterone correlates with morph-type across breeding sub-stages in male white-throated sparrows Physiological and Biochemical Zoology Vol 82(5): 572-579

Breuner, C.W., Orchinik, M., (2009) Pharmacological characterization of intracellular, membrane, and plasma binding sites for corticosterone in house sparrows. General and Comparative Endocrinology. 163: 214-224

Malisch, J. L., Breuner, C. W., Kolb, E. M., Wada, H., Hannon, R. M., Chappell, M. A., Middleton, K. M., Garland, T., (2009) Behavioral Despair and Home-Cage Activity in Mice with Chronically Elevated Baseline Corticosterone Concentrations. Behavior Genetics. 39: 192-201.

Muller, C., Almasi, B., Roulin, A., Breuner, C. W., Jenni-Eiermann, S., Jenni, L., (2009) Effects of corticosterone pellets on baseline and stress-induced corticosterone and corticosteroid-binding-globulin. General and Comparative Endocrinology. 160: 59-66.

Wada, H., Salvante, K. G., Wagner, E., Williams, T. D., Breuner, C. W., (2009) Ontogeny and individual variation in the adrenocortical response of zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) Nestlings. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 82: 325-331.

Swett, M.B., and C.W. Breuner (2008) Interactions of testosterone, corticosterone, and corticosteroid binding globulin in the White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis).  Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology PT A Vol 151 (2): 226-231

Breuner, CW, SH Patterson, and TP Hahn (2008)  In search of relationships between the acute adrenocortical response and fitness.  General and Comparative Endocrinology Vol 157: 288-295

Breuner, CW (2008)  Maternal stress, glucocorticoids and the maternal match hypothesis  Hormones and Behavior Vol 54: 4875-4876

Breuner, CW  (2008)  Stressed tissue in a calm organism: focus on 'cortisol and corticosterone in the songbird immune and neural systems' by Schmidt and Soma.  American Journal of Physiology: Regulative, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology Vol 295: R101-102

Wada, H. and Breuner, C.W.  (2008) Transient elevation of corticosterone alters begging behavior and growth of white-crowned sparrow nestlings.  Journal of Experimental Biology Vol 211: 1696-1703

Malisch, J.L., Breuner, C.W., Gomes, F.R., Chappell, M.A., and T. Garland Jr. (2008)  Circadian pattern of total and free corticosterone concentrations, corticosteroid-binding globulin, and physical activity in mice selectively bred for high voluntary wheel-running behavior.  General and Comparative Endocrinology Vol 156: 210-217

Wada, H., Salvante, K.G., Stables, C., Wagner, E., Williams, T.D., and Breuner, C.W. (2008). Adrenocortical responses in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata): individual variation, repeatability and relationship to phenotypic quality. Hormones and Behavior Vol 53: 472-480

Wada, H., Hahn, T.P., and Breuner, C.W.  (2007) Development of stress reactivity in white-crowned sparrow nestlings: total corticosterone response increases with age, while free corticosterone response remains low.  General and Comparative Endocrinology 150(3): 405-413

Lynn, S.E., Hahn, T.P., and Breuner, C.W.  (2007)  Free-living male mountain white-crowned sparrows exhibit territorial aggression without modulating total or free plasma testosterone.  Condor 109(1): 173-180

Ward, C., Fontes, C., Breuner, C., and Mendonca, M. (2007) Characterization and quantification of corticosteroid binding globulin in a southern toad, Bufo terrestris, exposed to coal combustion waste  General and Comparative Endocrinology 152 (1): 82-88

Zysling, D.A., Greives, T.J., Breuner, C.W., Casto, J.M., Demas, G.E., and Ketterson, E.D.  (2006)  Behavioral and physiological responses to experimentally elevated testosterone in female dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis carolinensis).  Hormones and Behavior 50(2): 200-207

Breuner, C.W., Lynn, S.E., Julian, G.E., Cornelius, J.M., Heidinger, B.J., Love, O.P., Sprague, R.S., Wada, H., and Whitman, B.A. (2006)  Plasma binding globulins and the acute stress response.  Hormone and Metabolic Research 38(4): 260-268

Wada, H., Moore, I.T., Breuner, C.W., and Wingfield, J.C., (2006).  Stress responses in equatorial sparrows: comparing tropical and temperate Zonotrichia.  Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 79(4): 784-792

Hahn, T. P., Sockman, K. W., Breuner, C. W., and Morton, M. L. (2004). Storm-induced facultative altitudinal migration prior to breeding by mountain white-crowned sparrows, Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha. Auk121(4): 1269-1281

Love, O.P., Breuner, C.W., Vezina, F., and Williams, T.D. (2004).  Modulation of corticosterone-mediated reproductive conflicts.  Hormones and Behavior46: 59-65

Wingfield, J.C., Owen-Ashley, N., Benowitz-Fredericks, Z M., Lynn, S.E., Hahn, T. P., Wada, H., Breuner, C., Meddle, S., and Romero, M. (2004). Arctic Spring:  The arrival biology of migrant birds.  Proceedings of the 23rd International Ornithological Congress   50(6): 948-960

Breuner, C. W., Orchinik, M., Hahn, T. P., Meddle, S.L., Moore, I.T., Owen-Ashley, N. T., Sperry, T.S., and Wingfield, J. C. (2003). Differential mechanisms for plasticity of the stress response across latitudinal gradients American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology 285: R594-R600

Breuner, C. W., and Hahn, T. P. (2003). Integrating stress physiology, environmental change, and behavior in free-living sparrows. Hormones and Behavior. 43: 115-123

Lynn, S. E., Breuner, C. W., and Wingfield, J. C. (2003). The effects of short-term fasting on activity, corticosterone, and corticosterone binding globulin in a migratory songbird, Gambel’s white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii). Hormones and Behavior. 43: 150-157

Breuner, C. W., and Orchinik, M. (2002).  Plasma binding proteins as mediators of corticosteroid action in vertebrates.  Journal of Endocrinology 175: 99-112

Breuner, C.W. and Orchinik, M. (2002) Downstream from corticosterone:  seasonality of binding globulins, receptors, and behavior in the avian stress response. In Avian Endocrinology, pp 385-399. A. Dawson (Ed.),  Narosa Publishing, New Delhi and London

Orchinik, M., Gasser, P., and Breuner, C. (2002) Rapid Corticosteroid Action and Behavior: Mechanisms and Functional Consequences.  In Steroids, Brain, and Behavior, D. Pfaff et al. (Eds.), Academic Press

Breuner CW and Orchinik M  (2001) Seasonal Regulation of Membrane and intracellular corticosteroid receptors in the house sparrow brain. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 13: 412-420

Deviche P, Breuner C and Orchinik M (2001) Testosterone, corticosterone, and photoperiod interact to regulate free steroid hormone levels in dark-eyed juncos, Junco hyemalis. General and Comparative Endocrinology 122: 67-77.

Breuner, C.W., Jennings, D., and Orchinik, M.  (2000) Pharmacological Adrenalectomy with Mitotane. General and Comparative Endocrinology 120: 27-34.

Breuner, C. W., and Wingfield, J. C. (2000) Rapid Behavioral Response to Corticosterone Varies With Photoperiod and Dose. Hormones and Behavior  37: 23-30.

Breuner, C. W., Wingfield, J.C., and Romero, L. M. (1999).  Diel Rhythms of Basal and Stress-Induced Corticosterone in a Wild, Seasonal Vertebrate, Gambel’s White-Crowned Sparrow. Journal of Experimental Zoology  284: 334-342.

Wikelski, M., Lynn, S., Breuner, C., Wingfield, J.C., and Kenagy, G.J. (1999).  Energy metabolism, testosterone and corticosterone in white-crowned sparrows.  Journal of Comparative Physiology A 185: 463-470

Breuner, C. W., Greenberg, A. L., and Wingfield, J. C. (1998). Non-Invasive Corticosterone Treatment Rapidly Increases Activity in Gambel's White-Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii). General and Comparative Endocrinology  111: 386-394.

Wingfield, J. C., Breuner, C. W., Honey, P., Jacobs, J., Lynn, S., Maney, D., Ramenofsky, M., and Richardson, R. (1998). Ecological bases of hormone-behavior interactions: the "emergency life history stage". American Zoologist  38(1): 191-206.

Tramontin, A. D., Smith, G. T., Breuner, C. W., and Brenowitz, E. A. (1998). Seasonal plasticity and sexual dimorphism in the avian song control system:  Stereological measurement of neuron density and number. Journal of Comparative Neurology,   396(2): 186-192.

Wingfield, J. C., Breuner, C. W., and Jacobs, J. (1997). Corticosterone and behavioral responses to unpredictable events. In S. Harvey and R. J. Etches (Eds.), Perspectives in Avian Endocrinology, pp. 267-278. Journal Endocrinology Ltd., Bristol.

Wingfield, J. C., Hunt, K., Breuner, C., Dunlap, K., Fowler, G. S., Freed, L., and Lepson, J. (1997). Environmental Stress, Field Endocrinology and Conservation Biology. In J. R. C. a. R. Buckholtz (Ed.), Behavioral Approaches to Conservation in the Wild, pp. 95-131. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Chair Director Departments

Division of Biological Sciences