Tim Pusack


Ph.D. 2013 Oregon State University
B.A. 2005 Colgate University
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Tim Pusack

Tim a postdoctoral researcher that studies community ecology of oyster reefs. His work combines both manipulative and observational field studies with controlled mesocosm experiments. Specifically he studies the interactions between the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) and various predators: crown conch (Melongena corona), southern oyster drill (Stramonita haemastoma), and mud crabs (Panopeus sp.). One of the main goals of his research is to describe how fluctuations in the physical environment can alter predator-prey dynamics. Changes in abiotic factors such as temperature and salinity will affect a species behavior, such as feeding rate or anti-predator behavior, and subsequently alter predator-prey dynamics. For example, under certain abiotic conditions rapid increases in the number of predators can result in high densities of predators called “consumer fronts”. These fronts can rapidly deplete prey populations. However understanding the predator-predator interactions at these high densities is understudied, but vital to accurately describe predator-prey dynamics. Through the use of field and lab experiments Tim is working on describing these affects.

Tim is also interested in understanding the effects of artificial and natural reefs on fish populations. He regularly participates in fish surveys and collection at our sites in the Gulf of Mexico. His interests also lie in using population genetic tools (eg. microsatellites, SNPs) to answer ecological questions such as population persistence, dispersal and movement, and population size (effective and census).

In addition to his research, Tim is passionate about teaching. He has taught many courses and during his post-doc has taught Ecology, Environmental Science, and developed a Marine Ecology field course that occurs at the Keys Marine Laboratory in the Florida Keys.



Pusack TJ, Benkwitt CB, Kindinger TL, and K Cure. Invasive Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans) grow faster in the Atlantic Ocean than in their native Pacific range. Environmental Biology of Fishes 99:571-579

Johnson DW, Christie MR, Stallings CD, Pusack TJ, MA Hixon (2015) Using post-settlement demography to estimate larval survivorship: a coral reef fish example. Oecologia, DOI: 10.1007/00442-015-3368-5 Pusack TJ, Christie MR, Johnson DW, Stallings CD, and MA Hixon. (2014) Spatial and temporal patterns of dispersal in a coral-reef fish metapopulation: evidence of variable reproductive success. Molecular Ecology, 23: 3396-3408

Raymond WW, Albins MA, and TJ Pusack (2014) Competitive interactions for shelter between invasive Pacific red lionfish and native Nassau grouper. Environmental Biology of Fishes, DOI: 10.1007/s10641-014-0236-9

Cure K, Benkwitt CE, Kindinger TK, Pickering E, Pusack TJ, McIlwain J, and MA Hixon (2012) Comparison of lionfish (Pterois volitans) activity between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 467: 181-192.

Alexander MS, Kawahara G, Kho AT, Howell MS, Pusack TJ, Myers J, Montanaro F, Zon LI, Guyon JR and LM Kunkel (2011) Isolation and trascriptome analysis of adult zebrafish cells enriched for skeletal muscle progenitors. Muscle and Nerve, 43: 741-750.

Pusack TJ and R Graham (2009) Threatened fishes of the world: Epinephelus itajara Lichtenstein 1822. Environmental Biology of Fishes 86: 293. Guyon JR, Goswami J, Jun S, Thorne M, Howell M, Pusack TJ, Kawahara G, Steffen LS, Galdzicki M, and Kunkel LM (2009) Genetic isolation and characterization of a splicing mutant of zebrafish dystrophin. Human Molecular Genetics 18: 202-211.

Steffen LS, Guyon JR, Vogel ED, Beltre R, Pusack TJ, Zhou Y, Zon LI, and Kunkel LM (2007) Zebrafish orthologs of human muscular dystrophy genes. BMC Genomics, 8: 79. Guyon JR, Steffen LS, Howell MH, Pusack TJ, Lawrence C, and LM Kunkel (2007) Modeling Human Muscle Disease in Zebrafish. Biochemica et Biophysica Acta – Molecular Basis for Disease, 2: 1772. Hoham RW, Filbin RW, Frey FM, Pusack TJ, Ryba JB, McDermott PD and RA Fields (2007) The optimum pH of the green snow algae, Chloromonas tughillensis and Chloromonas chenangoensis, from Upstate New York, Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research¸ 39: 65-73.