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Photo of Spencer Ingley

Spencer Ingley

Associate Professor
Faculty of Sciences

55-220 Kulanui Street, Bldg. 5
Laie, Hawaii 96762

Professional Background

  • 2017-Present Assistant Professor, Department of Natural Sciences, Brigham Young University-Hawaii
  • 2015-2017 National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • 2010-2015 Ph.D., Biology, Brigham Young University
  • 2004-2010 B.S., Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, The University of Florida

Research Interests

Ecological Speciation in live-bearing fishes:

The processes that drive the origins of biodiversity have always fascinated me. In particular, I am interested in understanding how local adaptation and reproductive isolation evolves as speciation proceeds from start to finish. Using fish from Central America as a model system, I follow an integrative approach to understand how divergent natural selection drives repeated patterns of divergence in behavior, morphology, and performance, and how this in turn results in reproductive isolation. These species show a remarkable repeated pattern of divergence, due to divergent predation regimes, at different points along the speciation continuum (i.e., from recently diverged populations to 'good' species).

In Hawaii, I plan on pursuing similar avenues of research, using fish that have been introduced to the islands and have become invasive. In a way, these introduced species provide an excellent ‘natural experiment’ to study how species change in response to new environments. One fascinating new environment that these fish are found in is anchialine pools. Anchialine pools are quasi-marine habitats that are common in Hawaii, but found in few other locations around the world. These pools occur where a depression in the earth is filled with water from two sources – fresh ground water from the mountains, and salt water that flows in via underground connections with the ocean. These pools are unique ecosystems that are home to many species that are only found in Hawaii, yet they are threatened by introduced non-native fish. I plan on studying these fish to gain a better understanding of how they impact these unique ecosystems, and to understand how species evolve in response to novel environments.

Causes and consequences of animal personalities

Recent work has demonstrated that consistent individual differences in behavior (i.e., animal personality) can impact a wide range of ecological and evolutionary processes, such as dispersal and invasion dynamics, information and disease transmission, and sexual selection. I have several projects evaluating the role of animal personality in ecology and evolution. Here in Hawaii, I am interested in looking at how these personalities influence the abundance and success of non-native species that have been introduced to the Islands, and to understand their role in several processes in native marine fish.


Ingley, S. J. (2017) On the temporal evolution of reproductive isolation. Evolution, 71: 497–498.

Ingley, S. J. & Rosenthal, G. G. (2017) Mechanisms of assortative mating and ecological speciation. Evolution, 71: 185–186.

L. Chouinard-Thuly, S. Gierszewski, G.G. Rosenthal, S. Reader, G. Rieucau, K.L. Woo, R. Gerlai, C. Tedore, S.J. Ingley, J. Stowers, J.G. Frommen, N.F. Troje, F.L.Dolins & Klaudia Witte. (2017) Technical and conceptual considerations for using animated stimuli in studies of animal behavior. Current Zoology 63 (1): 5-19.

Ingley, S.J., J.N. Pruitt, Inon Scharf & Jessica Purcell (2016). Social context, but not individual personality, alters immigrant viability in a spider with mixed social structure. Animal Behaviour 120:153-161.

Goulet, C.T., S.J. Ingley (co-first author), Inon Scharf and Jonathan N. Pruitt. (2016) Thermal effects on survival and reproductive performance vary according to personality type. Behavioral Ecology 27 (6): 1635-1641.

Ingley, S.J., and J.B. Johnson. (2016) Selection is stronger in early-versus-late stages of divergence in a Neotropical live-bearing fish. Biology Letters 12 (3).

Ingley, S.J. and J.B. Johnson. (2016) Divergent natural selection promotes immigrant inviability at early and late stages of divergence. Evolution 70: 600-616.

Ingley, S.J., *Camarillo, H., *Willis, H., and J.B. Johnson. (2016) Repeated evolution of local adaptation in swimming performance: Population level trade-offs between burst and endurance swimming in Brachyrhaphis freshwater fish. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 119 (4) 1011-1026.

Ingley, S.J., M. Rahmani Asl, C. Wu, R. Cui, M. Gadelhak, W. Li, J. Zhang, J. Simpson, C. Hash, T. Butkowski, T. Veen, J.B. Johnson, W. Yan, and G.G. Rosenthal. (2015) anyFish 2: an open-source software platform to generate and share animated fish models to study behaviour. SoftwareX 3-4: 13-21.

Ingley, S.J., Reina, R., Bermingham, E., and J.B. Johnson. (2015) Phylogenetic analyses provide insights into the historical biogeography and evolution of Brachyrhaphis fishes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 89: 104-114.

Ingley S.J., Johnson JB, 2014. Animal personality as a driver of reproductive isolation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution29:369-371.

Ingley, S.J., Billman, E.J., *Hancock, C., and J.B. Johnson. (2014) Repeated geographic divergence in behavior: a case study employing phenotypic trajectory analysis. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 68: 1577-1587.

Thor Veen, S.J. Ingley, Rongfeng Cui, Jon Simpson, Mohammad Rahmani Asl, Ji Zhang, Trisha Butkowski, Wen Li, Chelsea Hash, Jerald B. Johnson, Wei Yan, Gil Rosenthal. (2013) anyFish: an open-source software to generate animated fish models for behavioural studies. Evolutionary Ecology Research 15 (3): 361-375.

Ingley, S.J., Bybee, S.M., Tennessen, K.J., Whiting, M.F., Branham, M.A. (2012) Life on the Fly: Phylogenetics and Evolution of Helicopter Damselflies (Odonata: Pseudostigmatidae). Zoologica Scripta, 41, 637-650

Harvey B. Lillywhite, Alejandro Solórzano, Coleman M. Sheehy III, S. J. Ingley, and Mahmood Sasa. (2010) New Perspectives on the Ecology and Natural History of the Yellow-bellied Sea Snake, Pelamis platurus, in Costa Rica: Does Precipitation Influence Distribution? IRCF Reptiles and Amphibians. 17 (2): 69-72.

Biology Program