Faculty Profiles

Pete Buston

Peter Buston

Assistant Professor of Biology

PhD, Cornell University, 2002
Areas of Interest: animal behavior, behavioral ecology, population ecology, evolutionary ecology, marine ecology and biological oceanography

Current Research

The Buston Lab, in conjunction with an international network of collaborators, grapples with questions at the frontiers of behavioral ecology, population ecology and evolutionary biology in the marine environment. To date, our research has focused on two major questions.

First, 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 the Behavioral Ecology page or our recent article in American Scientist for more information.

Second, 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 the Population Ecology page for more information.

Our research combines long-term observations of marked populations in their natural habitat, with experimental manipulations, mathematical modeling and molecular genetics. We use a rigorous, hypothesis driven approach to address fundamental questions at the interface of behavioral ecology, population ecology and evolutionary biology.

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.

Courses Taught

  • BI 260 Marine Biology
  • BI 519 Theoretical Evolutionary Ecology
  • BI 579 Progress in Ecology, Behavior, Evolution and Marine Biology
  • BI 582 Integrative Marine Ecology
  • BI 671 Survey of Ecology, Behavior, Evolution and Marine Biology

Selected Publications

  • Buston PM, Wong MYL (2014) Why some animals forgo reproduction in complex societies. American Scientist 102: 290-297.
  • D’Aloia CC, Bogdanowicz SM, Majoris JE, Harrison RG, Buston PM (2013) Self-recruitment in a Caribbean reef fish: a new method for approximating dispersal kernels. Molecular Ecology 22: 2563-2572.
  • 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.
  • Buston P, Elith J (2011) Determinants of reproductive success in dominant pairs of clownfish: a boosted regression tree analysis. Journal of Animal Ecology 80: 528-538.
  • Buston PM, Fauvelot C, Wong MYL, Planes S (2009) Genetic relatedness in groups of humbug damselfish Dascyllus aruanus: small, similarly-sized individuals may be close kin. Molecular Ecology 18: 4707-4715.
  • Buston PM, Zink AG (2009) Reproductive skew and the evolution of conflict resolution: a synthesis of transactional and tug-of-war models. Behavioral Ecology 20: 672-684.
  • 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.

    (pdfs available upon request)