Zoology BSc/MSci

Animal Ecophysiology 4Y option BIOL4294

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Biodiversity One Health Vet Med
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

In this course, students will investigate interactions between animal physiology and aspects of their environment, associations between physiology and animal behaviour, and the ability of animals to cope with environmental change via plasticity and evolutionary adaptation. Students will critically analyse theories of how animals will respond to environmental change. The course also reviews methods used in the study of animal ecophysiology in the laboratory in the field and develops students' abilities to understand physiological data and design research studies.


This option is assigned to block S1 option block. Lecture material will be presented live and as audio recordings on Moodle. Each topic will include small group tutorials on Fridays (during a two-hour scheduled time period). Tutorial sessions will involve formative individual and group activities, including a practical project where the students can measure behaviour and performance traits in crickets reared at different temperatures.

Excluded Courses



The course will be assessed by a 2-hour examination (60%) and in-course assessment consisting of two components: (1) Individual contribution to group topic synthesis article (25%); and (2) Experimental design exercise (15%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide students with an understanding of how the environment affects physiology systems in animals, and in turn, how physiology can affect animal behaviour and responses to environmental stressors, including how animals will cope with climate change. Students will develop their ability to critically evaluate the scientific literature surrounding this topic and improve their knowledge of study design.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Discuss critically the physiological means by which animals respond to varying environmental factors (e.g. temperature, oxygen availability, pH, salinity, food availability) over different timescales (e.g. physiological adaptation, plasticity, canalisation)

■ Discuss critically the relationships between physiological systems and broad categories of animal behaviour (e.g. foraging, predator avoidance, social behaviour)

■ Synthesise current literature and knowledge on contemporary topics in ecophysiological research and critically evaluate key theories in ecophysiology

■ Evaluate various approaches to the collection and analysis of physiological data, experimental design, and evolutionary analysis of plasticity

■ Discuss critically the relevance of ecophysiology for conservation and resource management

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.