Sean Lema

Associate Professor Sean LemaSean Lema, Ph.D.


Graduate Coordinator

181-415 office
181-403 lab
Lema Lab website



B.S., University of California, Davis (Evolution and Ecology)
Ph.D., University of California, Davis (Animal Behavior)
Postdoc, West Coast Center for Oceans and Human Health, Northwest Fisheries Science Center - NOAA Fisheries (Endocrinology)

Research Interests

  • Environmental endocrinology
  • Behavioral ecology of marine and freshwater fishes
  • Evolution of developmental and behavioral plasticity
  • Endocrine disruption by chemical pollutants
  • Integration of phenotypic plasticity into new approaches to conservation

Advising Interests

  • Molecular and cellular endocrinology
  • Effects of pollutants on the endocrine system
  • Evolution of hormones, brain and behavior
  • Animal behavior
  • Environmental ethics


My research examines how environmental variation shapes animals’ phenotypes in the wild by linking hormonal mechanism with behavioral and ecological outcomes. Animals respond to changes in their environments – whether physical, social or chemical – via shifts in hormonal signaling, which ultimately mediate behavioral and developmental responses.

Students in my laboratory use integrative and comparative experimental approaches to investigate how hormonal mechanisms generate phenotypic variation in free-ranging animals, and explore the importance of those mechanisms for basic questions in evolutionary biology and behavioral ecology, as well as for emerging problems in animal conservation, including how chemical pollutants in the environment can impact wildlife health by disrupting hormonal signaling.

The research of my laboratory focuses largely on teleost fishes, and has included work on fish in a variety of ecosystems ranging from pupfishes in the Death Valley region of California and Nevada to coral reef fishes in the Caribbean Sea.


Offsite link to selected publications


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