Animal ecophysiology from a climate perspective
Have you ever thought about why some fish thrives in water at zero degrees, while there are desert ants that manage body temperatures close to 50 degrees? Or how the polar bear and the camel have approximately the same body temperature, despite the large difference in their surrounding temperature? And how come that some species manage to live in a continuously changing environment and in different climates, while others don't? On this course you will learn more about the physiological and morphological characteristics behind these variations.
Ecophysiology deals with how organisms are affected by and adapt to their surrounding environment. On this course, we focus on animals and how they are affected by environmental factors like temperature, oxygen availability, pH and salinity.
We expect you to already have a general understanding of zoophysiology, that is how organs function and are controlled. During the course, we will instead go more into details about adaptation and acclimations to various habitats under different climatic conditions and physiological responses to changes in the surroundings. We will take a closer look at many different animal groups and habitats. What physiological adaptations do we e.g. see in the camel in the desert, fish in the Antarctic or mussels in the tidal zone? And how does the animal body respond to changes in these environmental factors, in both a short-term and long-term perspective?
We will also discuss how these adaptations may limit the expansion of species to other habitats, attempting to put this knowledge in relation to current research about how ongoing and future climate changes may affect the distribution and survival.
The course is based on a pedagogical idea that expects active participation of all students throughout the course, with group discussion, seminars and practical activities being central. A fairly large part of the literature consists of scientific papers. About one third of the course constitute a lab-based research-related project that you do in smaller groups.
Examination is continuous during the course, and includes both oral and written assignments.