BIOL354-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021

Animal Ecophysiology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 July 2021
End Date: Sunday, 14 November 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 1 August 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 1 October 2021


Comparative aspects of physiological adaptation to aquatic and terrestrial environments. Topics include osmoregulation, excretion, respiration, circulation, temperature acclimation, using both vertebrate and invertebrate examples.

This course examines the physiological adaptations that permit survival of animals in the diverse range of environments they inhabit, and the regulatory mechanisms that ensure homeostasis in the face of environmental fluctuation. Aspects of human impacts on the environment and their consequences for the animals therein are also addressed (e.g. pollutants, climate change).

The approach taken is comparative, drawing on both vertebrate and invertebrate examples. A major emphasis of the course is on practical learning, with laboratories that provide hands-on experience with a number of physiological techniques, in a diverse group of animals, exposed to a wide range of environmental variables.

Course Goal
To develop an understanding of the physiological mechanisms that enable animals to withstand the various and complex challenges posed by nature and humans.

Learning Outcomes

As a student in this course, I will develop critical competence in the core academic discipline:
* Understand the challenges to animal life posed by different environments
Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP5
* Understand the physiological mechanisms animals have utilised in order to cope with these challenges
Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP5
* Understand the ‘real-world’ value of studying ecophysiology as a discipline, including bicultural and multicultural perspectives.
Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP3, GP5
* Expand practical experience of basic experimental techniques in animal physiology
Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP5
* Develop key skills in experimental design, physiological methodology, data analysis, data interpretation, literature assimilation, and scientific writing
Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP5
Principles are presented in lectures and developed in laboratories. These learning outcomes will be assessed via the end-of-course test and laboratory reports.

Transferable Skills
As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
 Practical operation of physiological equipment. Measuring physiological parameters is a critical tool in exercise, research, and hospital laboratories.
Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2
 Analysing data. Condensing raw data into meaningful values and then assessing the resulting trends is a key skill in a number of vocations, both within science and in other areas.
Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2
 Synthesising information. Assimilating presented knowledge, integrating this with your own research, then communicating it effectively in your own words is a valuable skill applicable across almost a range of fields.
Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP5
 Writing reports. Using scientific databases to find literature, integrating with your own findings, and then effectively communicating this in a written form is absolutely critical in science.
Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2
 Working as a team. Many labs will require you to work in teams, a task that will involve effective organization, problem-solving, communication, co-ordination, and interpersonal attributes.
Related graduate attributes: GP2, GP3, GP5


Timetable Note

Two lectures per week, during Term 3 and Term 4. Please check course information for lectures times and locations.
Students should note that in the Science Faculty the average student is responsible for approximately 4.5 hours of additional study for each hour of lecture at the 300-level.
Please note that labs start in the first week of Term 3.
The laboratory is in Ernest Rutherford 452 Biology Lab. Four hour slots are allocated, but most labs should finish within three hours. All labs will be completed in Term 3.
Labs will run on modular basis with each group in the lab doing a different lab, and each week the groups will rotate to a new lab set-up. This has been initiated to deal with the large growth in student numbers in this course and the limited resources that are available. The drawback with this approach is that the labs will not always follow along with the lecture material.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Essie Rodgers


Elissa Cameron


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Final Exam 60%
Laboratory assessments 40% Three lab reports 10% each; lab attendance 1.5% per lab, 1 % for contribution.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Willmer, Pat , Stone, G., Johnston, Ian A; Environmental physiology of animals ; 2nd ed; Blackwell Pub., 2005.

The recommended text is Wilmer et al., but there are a number of supplementary texts that will provide suitable background information to particular lectures and/or the course in general. These texts are all on restricted library loan. For some lectures, primary literature (i.e. journal articles) may form the basis of the recommended reading. This reading will always be made available, either through Learn or via restricted library loan.


Feedback from course surveys

Well organised course: 4.6
Course stimulated interest: 4.7
Course workload: 4.4#
Course difficulty: N/A
Helpful feedback: 4.6
Effective assessments: 4.4
Overall quality of course: 4.9

Well organised course: 4.7
Course stimulated interest: 4.6
Course workload: 4.7#
Course difficulty: N/A
Helpful feedback: 4.4
Effective assessments: 3.9
Overall quality of course: 4.6

Well organised course: 4.7
Course stimulated interest: 4.8
Course workload: 4.3#
Course difficulty: N/A
Helpful feedback: 4.7
Effective assessments: 4.4
Overall quality of course: 4.6

(*) score of 3 = reasonable, (#) score of 5 = reasonable, (N/A) this question removed from survey

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $910.00

International fee $4,438.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL354 Occurrences

  • BIOL354-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021