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Animal Ecophysiology

Module titleAnimal Ecophysiology
Module codeBIO2082
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor Rod Wilson (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

In this module lectures will cover some of the major physiological processes in animals, including but not limited to cardiorespiratory physiology, thermal relations, ion, osmotic and acid-base regulation, reproduction, and neuroendocrine physiology, including how we study physiology of wild animals in nature. Throughout, these physiological principles will be discussed using examples from animals adapted to living in very different environmental niches, and how anthropogenic influences may impact individuals and populations. The lectures will be complemented by practical classes which use experimental approaches to explore some of these physiological principles. Practical classes will also be accompanied by data analysis sessions that demonstrate principles of how to analyse and interpret data derived from practical classes which form the basis of the lab reports used in course assessments. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to build on the background provided in Stage 1 (BIO1331 Animals) by exploring various aspects and the integration of major physiological processes in animals (metabolism, respiration, endocrinology, reproduction, osmo-, ion- and acid-base regulation) and how these relate to adaptation to ecological niches.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Explain the various physiological systems in animals that respond to environmental and endogenous variables
  • 2. Describe and distinguish between various examples of acclimation and adaptation in animals
  • 3. Demonstrate competence in a range of standard practical procedures for investigating physiological processes in the laboratory

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Describe and evaluate approaches to our understanding of organismal biology (including cell and molecular components) from an ecological point of view with reference to textbooks, reviews and primary literature
  • 5. Describe in some detail essential facts and theory across a subdiscipline of the biosciences
  • 6. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 7. With some guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, investigation and enquiry within the biosciences

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently by written means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 9. Develop, with some guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with valid conclusions
  • 10. Collect, analyse and interpret appropriate data, drawing on a range of sources, with limited guidance

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Lectures covering (but not limited to): cardio-respiratory physiology; metabolism; temperature; ion, osmotic and acid-base regulation; endocrinology; reproduction; neuroendocrinology.

Data analysis and interpretation lecture sessions.

Practical classes using experimental approaches to investigate a range of physiological principles.

Interactive Questions/Answers sessions.


Accessibility Statement:

As part of this module you will undertake laboratory sessions in the large teaching laboratory that are of 2-3 hrs in duration. These sessions will be undertaken in pairs/groups, and some sessions involve fine laboratory work, mechanical equipment, animal dissections and/or work with live invertebrates. Breaks are possible and students are able to leave the laboratory for short periods.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22In-person lectures; Data Handling Sessions; Q/A Sessions
Scheduled Learning and Teaching12Laboratory practicals (4 x 3 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Group data sheets associated with practical classes (4 x 30 minutes)
Guided Independent Study66Lecture consolidation and associated reading
Guided Independent Study40Coursework and exam revision


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Lecturer and/or GTA feedback on returned groupwork sheets and during data analysis sessions4 x 0.5 hAllWritten and oral
ELE-based feedback (e.g. via forum)Ad hocAllWritten

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay examination601000 words1, 2, 4-9Written
Lab Report 1 (weeks 1-6)20Approx. 800-1200 words, alongside analysis and presentation of data1-10Written
Lab Report 2 (weeks 7-12)20Approx. 800-1200 words, alongside analysis and presentation of data1-10Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay examinationEssay examination1, 2, 4-9August Ref/Def
Lab ReportsLab Report1-10August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. If you are deferred for both lab reports, you will be required to undertake a single deferred lab report. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Hill, R.W., Wyse, G.A. and Anderson, M. (2016). Animal Physiology. Sinauer Associates. ISBN: 9781605354712

A previous recommended textbook (which is still useful) is:

  • Randall D, Burggren W and French K (2001). Eckert Animal Physiology: Mechanisms and Adaptations. Freeman ISBN 0­7167­2414­6.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Ecophysiology, physiological processes, animals, respiration, homeostasis

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

BIO1331 Animals

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date