Ernie Chang, Ph.D.

Ernie Chang

Position Title
Professor Emeritus

  • Bodega Marine Laboratory
  • College of Biological Sciences
  • Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior
Bodega Marine Laboratory
University of California Davis, Bodega Marine Laboratory, PO Box 247, 2099 Westshore Rd, Bodega Bay CA 94923

B.A. University of California-Berkeley, (Zoology) 1973

Ph.D. University of California-Los Angeles, (Biology) 1978

Research Interests

My laboratory is broadly concerned with the mechanisms of development and the physiological ecology of marine and other invertebrates, especially those mechanisms involving hormonal and pheromonal cues. More specifically, we are conducting projects on:

  1. the molecular cloning of peptide hormones from the eyestalk of crustaceans (principally the lobster) that control molting
  2. the characterization of insulin-like growth factors from crustaceans
  3. pheromones and neurotransmitters that influence reproductive and aggressive behavior in crustaceans
  4. endocrine control of female reproduction in lobsters and marine
  5. the actions of ecdysteroids and methyl farnesoate in crustaceans via their hormone receptors
  6. characterization of muscle proteins in crustacean limbs during the molt cycle and development
  7. the physiological ecology of development and metamorphosis of marine invertebrates
  8. stress responses (hormones and heat-shock proteins) in crustaceans

As you can see, we are interested in the integration of control mechanisms from the organismal (and even the community) level down to the cellular basis of gene expression. Our research combines a blend of both applied aquaculture and basic research into invertebrate physiology and cell biology. I try to always keep a broad perspective and not become too narrowly focused. Some students have arrived here with distinct projects in mind and have been permitted to conduct them. Others have first learned some the laboratory techniques important to physiological ecology and cellular/developmental biology and have then formulated a research plan after consultation with me.

Our own laboratory is now very well equipped to conduct studies in molecular and cellular biology. These techniques include nucleic acid blotting and cloning, electrophoresis, radioimmunoassay, ELISA, scintillation spectrometry, high-performance liquid chromatography, ultracentrifugation, and cell culture. In addition, one of our strong points is our ability to maintain and culture large numbers of marine invertebrates. The major drawback with our laboratory is that it is somewhat isolated from both Davis and Berkeley. This requires the student to first complete their course work on campus and then relocate to Bodega Bay to complete their research. Although I am unable to guarantee financial support, I currently have two (out of two) students that do have substantial assistance. They have obtained support after being enrolled for several quarters and after demonstrating their perseverance and diligence. These students are either in master's degree programs in the Department of Animal Science or in master's or doctoral programs in the Physiology, Ecology or Animal Behavior Graduate Groups. For application forms or more information, write directly to either the department or the individual graduate group (e.g. Physiology Graduate Group, Univ. of California, Davis, CA 95616).

I personally view our laboratory as a small community in which its members both contribute to its development and also reap the benefits that it has to offer. The contributions required are serious study, constructive criticism, and creative research that further the goals of the laboratory group. Long hours at the laboratory bench or in the field and frequent commuting to the main campus are required. Because of the nature of our work, it is unreasonable to assume that a student can only work weekdays from 8 to 5. Although I believe that students should be well rounded, they usually have little time for activities in addition to their studies. My laboratory is definitely not a place to go to get an easy degree. It has gained a reputation such that I am fortunate enough to be very selective about the students admitted.

As to the benefits to the student, I am able to offer my experiences from U.C. Berkeley (undergraduate), U.C. Los Angeles (graduate), and the University of Chicago (postdoctoral). In addition, we have a good track record of funding from such varied sources as Sea Grant, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and the American Cancer Society. Although I am a full professor, I am still able to spend long hours in the laboratory and hence will have close contact with the student. Finally, we offer more than adequate facilities, excellent sea water quality, and a not unpleasant working environment.

I am not accepting new students nor other personnel in my laboratory.


Chang, E. S., and Sagi, A. 2008. Male reproductive hormones. In: “Reproductive Biology of Crustaceans: Case Studies of Decapod Crustaceans” (E. Mente, ed.), pp. 299-317. Science Publishers, Enfield, NH.

Covi, J., Gomez, A., Chang, S., Lee, K., Chang, E., and Mykles, D. 2008. Repression of Y-organ ecdysteroidogenesis by cyclic nucleotides and agonists of NO-sensitive guanylyl cyclase. In: “4th Meeting of Comparative Biochemists and Physiologists in Africa - Mara 2008: Molecules to Migration: The Pressures of Life” (S. Morris, and A. Vosloo, eds.), pp. 37-46. Medimond Publishing Co., Bologna.

Covi, J. A., Chang, E. S., and Mykles, D. L. 2009. Conserved role of cyclic nucleotides in the regulation of ecdysteroidogenesis by the crustacean molting gland. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A 152:470-477.

Zarubin, T. P., Chang, E. S., and Mykles, D. L. 2009. Expression of recombinant eyestalk crustacean hyperglycemic hormone from the tropical land crab, Gecarcinus lateralis: Effects on hemolymph glucose and Y-organ ecdysteroidogenesis. Molec. Biol. Rep. 36:1231-1237.

Lund, H. S., Wang, T., Chang, E. S., Pedersen, L. F., Taylor, E. W., Pedersen, P. B., and McKenzie, D. J. 2009. Recovery by the Norway lobster Nephrops norvegicus (L.) from the physiological stresses of trawling: influence of season and live-storage position. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 373:124-132.

Covi, J. A., Bader, B. D., Chang, E. S., and Mykles, D. L. 2010. Molt cycle regulation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle of the blackback land crab, Gecarcinus lateralis, and the differential expression of a myostatin-like factor during atrophy induced by molting or unweighting. J. Exp. Biol. 213:172-183.

Basti, D., Bricknell, I., Hoyt, K., Chang, E. S., Halteman, W. and Bouchard, D. 2010. Factors affecting the post-capture survivability of the lobster Homarus americanus. Dis. Aquat. Organisms 90:153-166.

Chang, E. S. 2010. Invertebrate hormones and behavior. In: “Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, Vol. 2” (M. D. Breed and J. Moore, eds.), pp. 209-215. Academic Press, Oxford.

MacLea, K. S., Covi, J. A., Chao, E., Kim, H.-W., Medler, S., Chang, E. S., and Mykles, D. L. 2010. Myostatin from the American lobster, Homarus americanus:cloning and effects of molting on expression in skeletal muscles. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A 157:328-337.

Basti, D., Bricknell, I., Chang, E. S., and Bouchard, D. 2010. Biochemical reference intervals for the resting state, adult lobster Homarus americanus. J. Shellfish Res. 29:1013-1019.

Chang, E. S. 2011. The crustacean endocrine system and pleiotropic chemical messengers. In: “Chemical Communication in Crustaceans” (T. Breithaup and M. Thiel, eds.), pp. 413-430. Springer, New York, NY.

McDonald, A. A., Chang, E. S., and Mykles, D. L. 2011. Molt induction by eyestalk ablation increases expression of nitric oxide synthase in the molting glands (Y-organs) of intermolt green crab, Carcinus maenas, and blackback land crab, Gecarcinus lateralis. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A 158:150-162.

Chang, E. S., and Mykles, D. L. 2011. Regulation of crustacean molting: a review and our perspectives. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 172:323-330.

Covi, J. A., Chang, E. S., Mykles, D. L. 2011. Neuropeptide signaling mechanisms in crustacean and insect molting glands. Invert. Reprod. Develop. In press.