Environmental Physiology of Animals

In this course, students will have an opportunity to investigate the diversity of physiological responses exhibited by animals to various environmental challenges.  These responses have been forged over evolutionary time and yet also reveal varying degrees of plasticity during the lives of individual animals.  We will read the primary literature focusing in particular, on animal responses to extreme environments.  Students will also derive and conduct their own research.


Essential questions in environmental physiology concern delineating the mechanisms and fitness consequences of complex phenotypes.  The major departure points are included in the first 3 papers below:

Conservation physiology

Beneficial acclimation hypothesis
Phenotypic flexibility

Particular systems: in BOLD and ITALICS is paper for our next class

Thermal sensitivity of Drosophila melanogaster: evolutionary responses

Thermal ecology of dragonflies
Thermal biology and water relations in caterpillars
Costs of plasticity-desiccation and immune response in frogs
Physiological and behavioural correlates of life-history variation: tropical vs temperate wrens
Timing of metamorphosis in a freshwater crustacean
Effects of fish chemical cues on the interactions between tadpoles and crayfish
Flight and thermoregulation in moths were shaped by predation from bats
Feeding ecology in elephants and hippos
Fighting success in crayfish-temperature and plasticity
Lactation costs in degus
Sex determination in a lizard

Ontogeny of snake locomotion
Lactation in a seal
Tradeoffs in lactation
Hibernation and immune response

Temperature regulation in burying beetles
Temperature, genetic variation, and body size in flies

Osmotic regulation in fruit flies

Cat lactation

Respiration in migrating crabs

Shift in diet-cannibalistic salamanders
Diving physiology in dolphins
Heart rate and diving in elephant seals
Larval stress-adult stress

Final paper: Phenotypic plasticity and the evol of species

Guidelines for Proposal
Environmental Physiology of Animals
Due no later than 4/4/07 (in class)
late papers not accepted

Guidelines for poster: due no later than noon on May 28

Guidelines for final paper: due no later than noon on May 28

Presentations of 15-20 min.-on fri. may 23 and tues. may 27