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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 GoalTo develop an understanding of the physiological mechanisms that enable animals to withstand the various and complex challenges posed by nature and humans.
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 environmentsRelated graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP5* Understand the physiological mechanisms animals have utilised in order to cope with these challengesRelated 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 physiologyRelated graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP5* Develop key skills in experimental design, physiological methodology, data analysis, data interpretation, literature assimilation, and scientific writingRelated graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP5Principles are presented in lectures and developed in laboratories. These learning outcomes will be assessed via the end-of-course test and laboratory reports.Transferable SkillsAs 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
Students must attend one activity from each section.
LecturesTwo 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.LaboratoriesPlease note that labs start in the second week of Term 3.The laboratory is in West 543 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 content / Hōtaka19/7 - 1 (EC) - Introduction adaptation to environment, size, metabolism - No laboratory in week 121/7 - 2 (EC) - Measuring metabolic rates26/7 - 3 (EC) - Scaling - Lab1: Stress hormones28/7 - 4 (EC) - Surviving anoxia or respiratory adaptations2/8 - 5 (EC) - Digestive physiology dietary specialisation - Lab 2: Crayfish heart rate4/8 - 6 (EC) - Digestive physiology for flight9/8 - 7 (EC) - Reproductive physiology - Lab 3: Frog jumping11/8 - 8 (EC) - Reproductive physiology, contraception16/8 - 9 (EC) - Endocrine disruptors - Lab 4: Nitrogen excretion18/8 - 10 - Guest lecture23/8 - 11 (ER) - Diving physiology 125/8 - 12 (ER) - Diving physiology 2 13/9 - 13 (ER) -Water & Solute Balance15/9 - 14 (ER) - Ocean acidification20/9 - 15 (ER) - Thermal physiology & climate change22/9- 16 (ER) - Endotherms in the cold27/9 - 17 (ER)- -Ectotherms in the cold29/9 - 18 (ER) - Physiologist’s toolbox- recent advances4/10 - 19 (ER) - Eco-physiological applications6/10 - 20 (ER) - Round-up*Note that this schedule and some of the lecture content may be subject to change.
Willmer, Pat , Stone, G., Johnston, Ian A;
Environmental physiology of animals
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.
Library portalLearn Site
Feedback from course surveys2014Well organised course: 4.6Course stimulated interest: 4.7Course workload: 4.4#Course difficulty: N/AHelpful feedback: 4.6Effective assessments: 4.4Overall quality of course: 4.92013Well organised course: 4.7Course stimulated interest: 4.6Course workload: 4.7#Course difficulty: N/AHelpful feedback: 4.4Effective assessments: 3.9Overall quality of course: 4.62012Well organised course: 4.7Course stimulated interest: 4.8Course workload: 4.3#Course difficulty: N/AHelpful feedback: 4.7Effective assessments: 4.4Overall quality of course: 4.6(*) score of 3 = reasonable, (#) score of 5 = reasonable, (N/A) this question removed from survey
Domestic fee $951.00
International fee $4,750.00
* 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