Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program


First Advisor

Daniel Powell


The ability of nervous systems to maintain function when exposed to global perturbations in temperature and salinity is a non-trivial task. The nervous system of the American lobster (H. americanus), a marine osmoconformer and poikilotherm, must be robust to these stressors, as they frequently experience fluctuations in both. I characterized the effects of temperature on the output of the pyloric circuit, a central pattern generator in the stomatogastric nervous system (STNS) that controls food filtration and established the maximum temperature that neurons in this circuit can withstand without “crashing” (ceasing to function but recovering when returned to normal conditions). I established a range of saline concentrations that did not cause the system to crash, and then determined whether combinatorial changes in temperature and salinity concentrations alter the maximum temperature the system tolerated. Even as burst frequency increased as temperature increased, phase constancy was observed. Interestingly, the system crashed at higher temperatures upon exposure to lower saline concentrations and lower temperatures in higher saline concentrations. I also established the range of saline concentrations that the lobster’s whole heart and cardiac ganglion (CG), the nervous system that controls the lobster’s heartbeat, can withstand. Then, I examined whether exposure to altered salinity and elevated temperature alters the crash temperature of the whole heart and CG. The CG crashed at higher temperatures than the whole heart in each saline concentration. Like the STNS, the whole heart and CG both crashed at higher temperatures in lower saline concentrations and higher temperatures in lower saline concentrations.