How do marine animals negotiate the challenges of a complex, ever changing, and often dangerous environment? How can we make sense of the rich repertoires of sensory and motor adaptations that are found among the diverse multi-cellular creatures that have evolved in the oceans over more than half a billion years? Finally, what kinds of nervous system innovations coincided with this sensory and motor efflorescence? In this course, we will explore the anatomical and physiological aspects of marine sensory and motor organs, with particular emphasis on their neural substrates. I’ll highlight key sensory and motor leitmotifs that are recurrent in marine bodyplans (e.g., aspects of vision, hearing, chemoreception, touch, locomotion, etc.) and distinguish between homologous versus analogous structures and functions in sensory and motor systems across different marine phyla.
In the lab for this course, we will dissect and compare a variety of sensory and motor organs across a number of different marine invertebrates (e.g., decapod shrimp, cephalopod molluscs) and vertebrates (e.g., bony fish). We will also perform simple psychophysical experiments designed to assess the sensory and motor capabilities of animals housed in the lab.
Corequisites: Student must also register for lab, BIO4125.