• Title Associate Professor of Biology; Director of Graduate Studies; Associate Director of Marine Program
  • Education PhD, Cornell University, 2002
  • Phone 617-358-5412
  • Area of Interest Population Ecology, Evolutionary Ecology, Behavioral Ecology, Marine Ecology, Fish Biology, Biological Oceanography, and Conservation Biology
  • CV

Current Research

The Buston Lab, in conjunction with an international network of collaborators, grapples with questions at the frontiers of population ecology, evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology and conservation biology in marine systems. Our research focuses on four major questions:

Population Ecology. First, what is the probability of larval exchange, or connectivity, between populations in marine metapopulations? This question has been a focus for marine ecologists because the answer holds the key to understanding metapopulation dynamics and designing effective networks of marine reserves. See our recent articles in Proceedings of the Royal Society and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to see how we have begun to tackle this question using clown anemonefish and neon gobies.

Evolutionary Biology. Second, how does the interaction between intrinsic barriers (dispersal traits) and extrinsic barriers (seascape barriers) to gene flow influence the emergence of spatial genetic structure, the origin of species, and ultimately the number of species in clades. These have been fundamental questions of evolutionary biology ever since The Modern Synthesis. See our recent articles in Molecular Ecology and Conservation Genetics to see how we are beginning to tackle this question.

Behavioral Ecology. Third, why some do some individuals forgo their own reproduction and behave cooperatively in animal societies? This question has challenged evolutionary biologists ever since Darwin pointed out the difficulties that these behaviors posed for his theory of natural selection. See our articles in Nature and Proceedings of the Royal Society, or more recent syntheses in American Scientist and Investigación y Ciencia to see how we have tackled this question using clown anemonefish and emerald gobies.

Conservation Biology. Fourth, how can we use our understanding of population connectivity to improve fisheries management and networks of marine reserves? In collaboration with colleagues from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Belize, we are beginning a new project investigating population connectivity of ecologically and economically important species of coral reef fishes in Belize. See our recent articles in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Conservation Genetics, to see how our work is beginning to speak to these issues.

Our research combines long-term field studies with experimental manipulations, mathematical modeling and molecular genetics. We use a hypothesis driven approach to address fundamental questions at the interface of population-, evolutionary-, and behavioral ecology in marine systems.

We welcome inquiries from students and postdocs interested in joining us to pursue research in the lab. We also welcome inquiries from those interested in collaborating on re-use of our data, which will be archived at the Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office.

Selected Publications

  • D’Aloia CC, Bogdanowicz SM, Harrison RG, Buston PM (2017) Cryptic genetic diversity and spatial patterns of admixture within Belizean marine reserves. Conservation Genetics 18: 211-233.
  • Buston PM, Wong MYL (2016) Animales que renuncian la reproducción. Investigación y Ciencia Febrero 2016: 76-84.
  • D’Aloia CC, Bogdanowicz SM, Francis, RK, Majoris J, Harrison RG, Buston PM (2015) Patterns, causes and consequences of marine larval dispersal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 112: 13940-13945.
  • D’Aloia CC, Bogdanowicz SM, Harrison RG, Buston PM (2014) Seascape continuity plays and important role in determining spatial genetic structure in a coral reef fish. Molecular Ecology 23: 2902-2913.
  • Buston PM, Wong MYL (2014) Why some animals forgo reproduction in complex societies. American Scientist 102: 290-297.
  • Buston PM, Jones GP, Planes S, Thorrold SR (2012) Probability of successful larval dispersal declines fivefold over 1 km in a coral reef fish. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 279: 1883-1888.
  • Wong MYL, Buston PM, Munday PL, Jones GP (2007) The threat of punishment enforces peaceful cooperation and stabilizes queues in a coral reef fish. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 274: 1093-1099.
  • Buston PM (2003) Size and growth modification in clownfish. Nature 424: 145-146.

Courses Taught:

  • BI 260 Marine Biology
  • BI 508 Behavioral Ecology
  • BI 519 Theoretical Evolutionary Ecology
  • BI 579 Progress in Ecology, Behavior, Evolution and Marine Biology
  • BI 671 Survey of Ecology, Behavior, Evolution and Marine Biology

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