Staff Spotlight

Dr. Gustav Paulay

Gustav Paulay portraitCurator of Marine Malacology
278 Dickinson Hall
Museum Road & Newell Drive
GainesvilleFL 32611



Ph.D. University of Washington, 1988

Florida Museum Invertebrate Zoology (Malacology & Marine Invertebrates)


Concurrent Appointments

Adjunct Professor of Zoology


Research Interests

Biogeography, evolution, systematics, and natural history of invertebrates. Marine biodiversity and biogeography, especially of tropics and coral reefs. Dynamics of species diversity and distributions; marine speciation. Large-scale marine biodiversity surveys. Island biology; marine and terrestrial biota of Pacific islands.


Ongoing Fieldwork

Our lab has an active field program on tropical coral reefs, with focus on the Ind-west Pacific. Field projects are focused on questions of biogeography and speciation on the one hand, and large-scale biodiversity surveys to document invertebrate species on the other. The former is pursued across as many islands and reefs as practical, throughout the tropics. The latter is focused on selected sites, with large recent efforts in Micronesia, Polynesia, Australia, and SW Indian Ocean Islands. All field work includes a substantial sampling component, with species documented by photos, field notes, and preserved for morphological and genetic study. Focus is on cnidarians, mollusks, crustaceans, and echinoderms, although other phyla are included as time and opportunity permit.


Courses Taught

Invertebrate Biodiversity – spring term, all years

Graduate/advanced undergrad reading group on biogeography, evolution & systematics, focused on marine invertebrates - fall and spring terms


Graduate Students

Nat Evans , Ph.D. Student

John Slapcinsky, Ph.D. Student

François Michonneau, Ph.D. Student 
Email: | Research and Selected Publications
I'm broadly interested in the creation and maintenance of marine invertebrate biodiversity (systematics, speciation, biogeography and community ecology). I've started my PhD in August 2006 as a trainee of the PEET project "Sea cucumbers on coral reefs: systematics of aspidochirotid holothurians". This project aims to revise the order Aspidochirotida thanks to a collaborative effort by using morphological and molecular systematics. 

John Starmer, Ph.D. Student
Email: | Research and Selected Publications
Interested in undertstanding how modern and historical processes interact to create and limit biodiversity at local and regional scales. Studying aspidochirote sea cucumber phylogenetics (Synallactidae, Holothuriidae, Stichopodidae) with a focus on the stichopodids. Would like to determine if habitat specificity influenced the group's ability to diversify in shallow water tropical versus shallow-temperate and deep water environments.


Representative Publications

Paulay, G., Starmer, J. 2011. Evolution, insular restriction, and extinction of oceanic land crabs, exemplified by the loss of an endemic Geograpsus in Hawai'i. PLoS One 6(5): e19916. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019916

O'Loughlin, P.M., Paulay, G., Davey, N., Michonneau, F. 2011. The Antarctic Region as a marine biodiversity hotspot for echinoderms: diversity and diversification of sea cucumbers. Deep Sea Research II 58: 264-275

Templado, J., Paulay, G., Gittenberger, A., Meyer, C. 2010. Sampling the marine realm. In: Manual on Field Recording Techniques and Protocols for All Taxa Biodiversity Inventories + Monitoring (ATBI+M). Eymann, J., Degreef, J., Häuser, C., Monje, J.C., Samyn, Y. & VandenSpiegel, D. (eds.) ABC Taxa 8: 273-307

Malay. M. C.; Paulay, G. 2010. Peripatric speciation drives diversification and distributional pattern of reef hermit crabs (Decapoda: Diogenidae: Calcinus). Evolution 64: 634-662.

Meyer, C. P.; Paulay, G. 2005. DNA Barcoding: error rates based on comprehensive sampling. PLoS, Biology 3(12): e422.

Meyer, C. P.; Geller, J. B.; Paulay, G. 2005. Fine scale endemism on coral reefs: archipelagic differentiation in turbinid gastropods.Evolution 59: 113-125.

Paulay, G. (ed.) 2003. The marine biodiversity of Guam and the Marianas. Micronesica 35-36: 1-682.

Paulay, G., Meyer, C. 2002 Diversification in the tropical Pacific: comparisons between marine and terrestrial systems and the importance of founder speciation. Integrative & Comparative Biology 42: 922-934

Paulay, G. 1997. Diversity and distribution of reef organisms. In: Birkeland, C. (ed.). Life and death of coral reefs. Chapman & Hall, NY, pp. 298-353

Paulay, G. 1996. Dynamic clams: changes in the bivalve fauna of Pacific islands as a result of sea level fluctuations. American Malacological Bulletin 12: 45-57

Paulay, G. 1994. Biodiversity on oceanic islands: its origin and extinction. American Zoologist 34: 134-144

Paulay, G., McEdward, L. R. 1990. A simulation model of island reef morphology: the effects of sea level fluctuations, growth, subsidence, and erosion. Coral Reefs 9: 51-62

Paulay, G. 1990. Effects of late Cenozoic sea-level fluctuations on the bivalve faunas of tropical oceanic islands. Paleobiology 16: 415-434