Sunny Scobell

Sunny Scobell

Department of Biology
Texas A&M University 

3258 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843 


Ph. D. Biology (In Progress)
Texas A&M University 

Curriculum Vitae

Sunny Scobell


Ph.D.  Biology (2011), Texas A&M University, College Station (Advisor: Adam G. Jones)                              

M.S. Zoology (2006) University of Oklahoma, Norman Thesis: Potential reproductive rate and female aggression in the sex-role reversed Gulf pipefish, Syngnathus scovelli (Advisor: Rosemary Knapp)

B.A. Biology (1999), Cum laude, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois 


Evolution of Mating Systems, Behavioral Ecology, Sexual Selection, Molecular Biology, Endocrinology


I am interested in the evolution of mating systems, particularly the evolution of polyandry in the family Syngnathidae.  Several species in this family are polyandrous; females mate multiply and males usually only mate with one female.  Females in these species (and in several polygynandrous species where males and females both mate multiply) are more ornamented and compete for access to males.  In previous work, I examined the hormonal mediation of female aggression in the Gulf pipefish.  In competitive interactions, winners had higher levels of an androgen than did losers.  This hormonal mechanism may represent a physiological pathway that allows females to be both aggressive and reproductive simultaneously.

Here in the Jones lab, I plan to extend this work by studying the evolution of female reproductive and behavioral traits in syngnathids that might have contributed to the evolution of polyandry.  Once male pregnancy evolved in this family, male reproductive rate was constrained by the time and energy it takes to brood offspring in the pouch.  Females only transfer eggs to the male during mating and are not constrained by brooding.  In certain species, mutations that allowed females to re-mate in a shorter time period could have resulted in a polyandrous mating system where males get mated quickly and females have to compete for the few males left in breeding condition.  These or other mutations could have affected female behavior resulting in female competitive behavior in these species that is not present in monogamous species. 

This family that exhibits polyandrous, polygynandrous and monogamous mating systems, presents a unique opportunity to study the evolution of mating systems and the physiological and behavioral traits that contribute to them.