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Animal Ecophysiology

Code: 45055
ECTS: 9.0
Lecturers in charge: izv. prof. dr. sc. Zoran Tadić - Lectures
Lecturers: Zoran Tadić - Seminar
Take exam: Studomat
English level:


All teaching activities will be held in Croatian. However, foreign students in mixed groups will have the opportunity to attend additional office hours with the lecturer and teaching assistants in English to help master the course materials. Additionally, the lecturer will refer foreign students to the corresponding literature in English, as well as give them the possibility of taking the associated exams in English.

1. komponenta

Lecture typeTotal
Lectures 30
Seminar 30
* Load is given in academic hour (1 academic hour = 45 minutes)

After finishing the course, the students will be able to:

1. Understand how interplay of anatomy, physiology and behaviour helps animals to adapt to various environments.
2. Explain how various tradeoffs in anatomy, physiology and behaviour result in the the optimal animal performance.
3. Create and analyze hypothesis-driven ecophysiological experiments.
4. Analyze and understand modern ecophysiological literature.


1 - Introduction to ecophysiology; physiological interactions with the environment; acclimation vs. acclimatization; structural dynamics of the organism; evolution, physiology and tradeoffs in performance; major ecological biotic and abiotic factors and animal life; methods in ecophysiology.

2 - Thermal physiology: Why is temeprature important; physics of heat transfer; thermal interactions of annimal and the environment; thermal adaptations of molecules, tissues and organs; hypothalamus and thermoregulation; shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis; heat stroke and heat exhaustion; immune system and thermoregulation.

3 - Physiological adaptations of animals in arid areas: Biology of deserts and savannas; body mass and survival strategies in deserts; survival strategies of evaders, evaporators and endurers; migrations in savannas; survival strategies of big mammals in deserts: arabian oryx and camel; people in deserts.

4 - Physiological adaptations of animals in polar regions: The evolution of polar regions; feeding and fasting cycles in polar regions; breeding cycles; extreme breeding in emperor penguins; thermal insulation: fur and blubber; brown adipose tissue in polar regions; abdominal fat; polar fishes and antifreeze proteins; whole-body freezing: wood frog and painted turtle.

5 - Hypometabolic states: Hibernation and torpor; induction and maintenance of hypometabolic states; obligatory and facultative hibernators; periodic awakenings during hibernation; molecular and cellular biology of hibernation; nutrition and hibernation; behavioural ecology and hibernation.

6 - Orientation and navigation in animals: Why migrate; types of migrations and migrants; extreme migrations; types of orientation; orientation using compass and map; sun compass, polarized light, stellar compass, geomagnetic compass; interaction of compasses and multiple cues; evolution of migration in birds; map and its location in body; chemical orientation and navigation in birds; chemical orientation and navigation in salmon.

7 - Functional morphology and physiology of movement: body adaptations to climbing, running and slithering; adaptations to moving in water; electric fishes and the physiology of electrocytes.

8 - Functional morphology and physiology of flying: The physics of flying: airfoil and air flow around it; bird wing: gliding vs. flapping flight; soaring using thermals; gliding in albatrosses; insect wings; clap-fling and clap-fling-ring effects; the partystreamer effect; energetics and economics of flight.

9 - Physiology of diving mammals: Who are the record holders; studying extreme diving in the past and today; problems with the studies of diving of marine mammals; oxygen stores in diving mammals; cardiovascular adaptations during long dives; muscle metabolism in diving; the oxygen debt; aerobic dive limit and its application in diving; energetics of diving mammals; bends in diving mammals.

10 - Biological clocks: The importance of time in biology; cycles in nature and how do animals adapt to them; clocks and zeitgebers: the clock entrainment; biological clocks in animals and humans; multiple clocks and the master clock; SCN and hypothalamus; genetics of biological clock.

11 - Human extreme physiology 1 - professional sport: physiology and professional sport; physiology and biochemistry of selected sports; physiology of training; why do injuries happen; sports nutrition.

12 - Human extreme physiology 2 - diving and flying: what happens during diving; breath diving and SCUBA diving; the effects of water pressure on human body; dangers of diving; physiology of flying in supersonic jet; physiology of spaceflight.


Students give a 15-minute talk on a paper in contemporary ecophysiology with subsequent discussion of it by the whole group.
  1. R. Harding (ed.): "Environmental Physiology, 3rd ed.", The Open University Press, UK, 2004, ISBN 9780749258535 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Animal-Physiology-Open-University-Course/dp/0749258535)
  2. D. Robinson: "Animal Performance", The Open University Press, UK, 1997, ISBN 978-0749251383 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Animal-Physiology-Performance-D-Robinson/dp/0749251387)
  3. R. Hill, G. Wyse, M. Anderson: "Animal Physiology, 3rd ed.", Sinauer Associates, USA, 2012, ISBN 978-0878936625 (http://www.sinauer.com/animal-physiology.html) - chapters 1, 10, 11, 15, 18, 26, 30
  4. P. Willmer, G. Stone, I. Johnston: "Environmental Physiology of Animals, 2nd ed.", J. Wiley and Sons, USA, 2004, ISBN 9781405107242 (http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1405107243.html) - chapters 14 and 16
1. semester
Izborni predmeti - Mandatory modul - Physiology and Immunobiology
Izborni predmeti - Mandatory modul - Zoology
Consultations schedule: