This topic uses an integrative approach to understand the range of physiological systems that determine how animals and plants maintain their internal environment (i.e. water and ionic relations, circulation, nutrient acquisition, growth, circadian rhythms) in response to a broad range of external environments, with particular focus on difficult external environments (hot, arid, salty). The topic will provide the physiological underpinnings that enhance the understanding of animal and plant behaviour, feeding, reproductive and mating strategies, perception, and response to the environment. Examples are drawn from across the animal and plant kingdoms and will include details of where animal and plant physiology interact. Human physiology is included throughout as part of a comparative approach. The topic will also include reference to the evolutionary influences shaping physiology across the animal and plant kingdoms.
After completing this topic students should have a basic understanding of how animal and plant physiology influences their perception of and response to the external environment. Students should also be able to integrate their physiological understanding when observing interactions between animals and plants in their environment. Students will also gain skills for monitoring aspects of ex situ and in situ plant and animal physiology. Finally, students will have experience of applying their physiological understanding and skills through identifying, exploring and reporting on natural animal-plant interactions. This will be achieved through a research project that will require students to utilise effective group work and management skills to identify an appropriate animal-plant system, observe and monitor the system, and present their findings in oral and written format.