ANIM3363 Environmental Physiology

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2OnlineOnline
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 core unit in the Zoology major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Life and Health Sciences
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 3 elective
This unit builds on fundamental aspects of structure and function to examine how animals work across the diversity of environments, from deserts to rainforests and polar regions, and from ponds to salt lakes. It examines the physical environment in which animals live, and the fundamental importance of physiological processes in integrating animal systems with respect to especially energy, thermal and water balance. There is a strong comparative approach for both vertebrate and invertebrate animals. These essential physiological processes are studied using homeostasis as an organising principle, and the actions of the nervous system and hormones in controlling and modulating them. An historical approach is taken in some areas and examples are used to show the workings of the scientific method. A quantitative approach is taken to these physiological adaptations to the environment, and a rigorous comparative phylogenetic methods perspective is provided to the interpretation of physiological adaptation. The comparative methods research project is a mini-research project that introduces students to important skills including phylogenetic methods, statistical analyses, report writing, bibliographic assemblage, and literature searching. The laboratory essay examines and researches an environmental physiology topic introduced in the laboratory periods.
Students are able to (1) gain knowledge of the nature of physiological environments; (2) understand the fundamental importance of homeostasis as a physiological function; (3) identify the roles of neural and hormonal control systems; (4) know the nature of the interaction of animals with their natural environment; (5) understand the comparative method and its role in examining adaptations of animals; and (6) develop experimental design, data analysis and report preparation.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) research project; (2) laboratory essay; and (3) a theory examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Phil Withers
Unit rules
any Level 2 ANIM unit
ANIM3303 Zoophysiology, ANIM8303 Zoophysiology
Contact hours
lectures: 2–3 hours per week; practical classes: 3 hours per week

Willmer, P., G. Stone, I. Johnston, Environmental Physiology of Animals. Wiley. EBook available online.

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.