Biology Department photograph montage

Physiology and Behavioral Biology




Coordinator: Dr. Andy Zink (email) 

    The M.S. degree in Physiology and Behavioral Biology is designed to provide students with a broad foundation in physiological mechanisms driving animal behavior, across a wide range of contexts. Course work and practical experience are combined with a focused laboratory and/or field research project.

    Course work is undertaken upon advisement with students' Principle Investigators, but may include biometry and statistics, human physiology, comparative physiology, reproductive physiology, plant physiology, ecological physiology, histology, neuroscience, endocrinology, and animal behavior.

    Students are expected to complete a program of at least 30 units of course work, perform a research project under the guidance of a Physiology and Behavioral Biology advisor, write a master's thesis, and present a thesis/research defense to the Biology Department.

    Faculty research interests include Sensory Neuroscience, Marine Ecological Physiology, Neurobiology and Behavior, Reproductive Behavior and Physiology, Animal Communication and Physiology of Disease.

    Faculty are located at both the main SFSU campus and at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Marine Studies. In both locations, teaching and research facilities include a variety of laboratories for biochemical, electrophysiological, anatomical, and behavioral studies.  



    Jennifer Breckler - Biology Education

    Robyn Crook - Sensory Neurobiology, Nociception, Cephalopods (Crook Lab)

    Megumi Fuse - Insect Endocrinology and Neurobiology, Nociception (Fuse Lab)

    Christopher Moffatt - Environmental Regulation of Neurogenesis in Insects  

    Jonathon Stillman - Environmental Physiology (Stillman Lab)

    Kimberly Tanner - Science Education, Assessment Tools, K-12 Education (SEPAL)

    Alejandro Velez (arriving Fall 17) - Sensory Neurobiology, Acoustic Signaling (Velez Lab)

    Vance Vredenburg - Amphibian Disease Physiology, Disease Ecology (Vredenburg Lab)

    Andrew Zink - Social behavior, Mating Systems, Disease Ecology (Zink Lab)


    Recent Publications from Masters Students in the P&BB Program

    (Students listed in bold Faculty mentors underlined) 


    Page, T., S. Worthington , P. Calosi and JH Stillman. 2016. Effects of elevated pCO2 on crab survival and exoskeleton composition depend on shell function and species distribution: a comparative analysis of carapace and claw mineralogy across four porcelain crab species from different habitats.  ICES J. Mar. Sci. doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsw196. 

    Tabuena D.R., Solis A, Geraldi K, Moffatt CA, Fuse M (2016). Central neural alterations predominate in an insect model of nociceptive sensitization. J Comp Neurol. doi: 10.1002/cne.24124. [Epub ahead of print]

    McMackin M.Z., Lewin MR, Tabuena DR., Arreola FE., Moffatt C, Fuse M (2016). Use of von Frey filaments to assess nociceptive sensitization in the hornworm, Manduca sexta. J Neurosci Meth. 257:139-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2015.09.015. PMID:26432932. PMCID: PMC4662919.

    Yap, T. A., L. Gillespie, S. Ellison, S. V. Flechas, M. S. Koo, A. E. Martinez, and V. T. Vredenburg. 2016. Invasion of the Fungal Pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis on California Islands. EcoHealth 13:145-150, doi:10.1007/s10393-015-1071-y (2016).


    Sette, C.M., V.T. Vredenburg, and A.G. Zink. 2015.  Reconstructing historical and contemporary disease dynamics: a case study using the California slender salamander. Biological Conservation 192:20-29.

    Jelde, B.E., N.A. Miller, J.H. Stillman and A.E. Todgham. 2015. The role of oxygen in determining upper thermal limits in Lottia digitalis under air exposure and submersion.  Physiol. Biochem. Zool. 88(5):483493.

    Diner, R, Benner I, Passow U, Komada T, Carpenter E, Stillman JH. 2015. Negative effects of ocean acidification on calcification vary within the coccolithophore genus CalcidiscusMar. Biol. 162(6): 1287-1305.

    Garland, MA, Stillman, JH and Tomanek L. 2015. The proteomic response of cheliped myofibril tissue in the eurythermal porcelain crab, Petrolisthes cinctipes, to heat shock following acclimation to daily temperature fluctuations.  J. Exp. Biol. 218: 388-403 


    Paganini, AW, Miller, NA, Stillman JH. 2014.  Temperature and pH variability reduce physiological performance in intertidal zone crabs.  J. Exp. Biol. 217: 3974-3980.

    Miller, N.A., Chen, X and J.H. Stillman. 2014. Metabolic physiology of the invasive clam, Potamocorbula amurensis: The interactive role of temperature, salinity, and food availability. PLoS ONE 9(3): e91064. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091064

    Wadsworth T, Carriman A, Gutierrez A., Moffatt C, Fuse M (2014). Ecdysis behaviors and circadian rhythm of ecdysis in the stick insect, Carausius morosus. J Insect Physiol. 71:68-77. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2014.10.003. PMID:25450561. PMCID: PMC4258443.  

    Galindo-Bustos, MA, DMB Hernandez-Jauregui, T ChengVT Vredenburg, and G Parra-Olea. 2014. Presence and prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in commercial amphibians in Mexico City. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 2014 45:4, 830-835 

    Bishop, M. R., R. C. Drewes, and VT Vredenburg. 2014. Food Web Linkages Demonstrate Importance of Terrestrial Prey for the Threatened California Red-Legged Frog. Journal of Herpetology 48:137-143. 


    Breckler, JL, Christensen, T, and Sun, W. 2013. Using a Physics Experiment in a Lecture Setting to Engage Biology Students with the Concepts of Poiseuille’s Law. CBE—Life Sciences Education Vol. 12, 262–273

    Benner, I., R.E. Diner, S.C. Lefebvre, D.Li , T. Komada, E.J Carpenter, J.H. Stillman. 2013. Emiliania huxleyi increases calcification but not expression of calcification- related genes in long-term exposure to elevated temperature and pCO2Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B 368: 20130049.

    Vogt, R.A., T.R. Ignoffo, L.J. Sullivan, J. Herndon, J.H. Stillman and W. Kimmerer.  2013. Feeding capabilities and limitations in the nauplii of two pelagic estuarine copepods, Pseudodiaptomus marinus and Oithona davisae. Limnol. Oceanog.  58: 2145–2157.

    Miller, N.A., A.W. Paganini, and J.H. Stillman.  2013.  Differential thermal tolerance and energetics trajectories during ontogeny in porcelain crabs, genus Petrolisthes. J. Therm. Biol. 38: 79-85.

    Carter H.A., L.O. Ceballos, N. Miller and J.H. Stillman.  2013.  Impact of ocean acidification on the metabolism and energetics of early life stages in the intertidal porcelain crab Petrolisthes cinctipes. J. Exp. Biol. 216: 1412-1422

    Ceballos, L.O., H.A. Carter, N. Miller and J.H. Stillman.  2013.  Effects of ocean acidification on early life-history stages of the intertidal porcelain crab Petrolisthes cinctipes. J. Exp. Biol. 216: 1405-1411

    Shimoide A, Kimball I, Gutierrez A, Lim H, Yoon I, Birmingham JT, Singh R, Fuse M (2013) Quantification and analysis of ecdysis in the hornworm, Manduca sexta, using machine vision-based tracking. Invert Neurosci 13(1):45-55. doi: 10.1007/s10158-012-0142-9. PMID:23007685. PMCID: PMC3969263.    

    Vredenburg VT, Felt SA, Morgan EC, McNally SVG, Wilson S, SL Green 2013 Prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Xenopus Collected in Africa (1871–2000) and in California (2001–2010). PLoS ONE 8(5): e63791. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063791