The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Scotland and The Battle for Britain: Episode 1Wednesday, 28th September 2016 01:35 - BBC Two (except Scotland)Andrew Marr discovers why the Scotland he was born in has changed so much politically. Read more: Scotland and The Battle for Britain: Episode 1
Life Story: ParenthoodAvailable until Sunday, 30th October 2016 01:00Some parents are more closely involved than others. Read more: Life Story: Parenthood
Life Story: CourtshipAvailable until Sunday, 23rd October 2016 01:25
BBC Inside Science - 2016/2017 series: What's left to explore?Available for over a year
Scotland and The Battle for Britain: Episode 2Available until Friday, 21st October 2016 01:35
Take the photographic memory testCan you capture scenes just by looking at them? Find out with our photographic memory test. Launch now: Take the photographic memory test
The lottery of birthThis free course, The lottery of birth, will look at both the big picture of the ‘lottery of... Try: The lottery of birth now
Organisations and management accountingThis free course, Organisations and management accounting, examines the nature of organisations,... Try: Organisations and management accounting now
Hibernation is an ingenious adaptation that some animals employ to survive difficult conditions in winter. This free course, Animals at the extremes: Hibernation and torpor, examines the differences between hibernation and torpor, and discusses the characteristic signs of hibernation behaviour. It explores the triggers that bring on hibernation, and whether internal signals or external season cues are predominant. It also examines the physiological adaptations that occur in hibernating animals.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- define and use, or recognise definitions and applications of, each of the bold terms
- give definitions of the terms ‘hibernation’, ‘torpor’ and ‘adaptive hypothermia’, and the three physiological processes that underlie them
- give examples of the diversity of the major groups of mammals and birds that contain hibernating species
- describe the physiological changes occurring during entry to hibernation and at least three of the cues that may trigger entry
- present evidence to show that hibernating mammals and birds retain physiological control of their Tb.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Hibernation and torpor: An introduction
- 2 The nature and extent of hibernation and torpor in endotherms
- 3 Characteristics of hibernation behaviour
- 4 Physiological adaptations – molecules and cells
- 5 Physiological adaptations – respiration and energy provision
- 6 Control systems
- 6.1 Introduction
- 6.2 The hypothalamus as central regulator
- 6.3 Metabolic regulation and the midbrain
- 6.4 Rapid-response genes and rhythmic neuronal activity
- 6.5 The neurotransmitters histamine and serotonin: a role for chemical signalling between neurons of the hypothalamus
- 6.6 Hormones and hibernation
- 6.7 Sleep, the brain and hibernation
- 6.8 Summary
- Course Questions
- Keep on learning
- Further reading
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Animals at the extremes: Hibernation and torpor
This is the second in a series of three courses on Animals at the extremes. In order to get the most from it, you should have previously studied Animals at the extremes: Polar biology (S324_3).. After completing this course you might like to complete the series by studying
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 3 study in Science.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Natural History courses or view the range of currently available OU Natural History courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 24th March 2016
Last updated on: Thursday, 24th March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (5 MB)
- PDF (4.7 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (3.9 MB)
- ePub 2.0 (3.9 MB)
- Kindle (1.8 MB)
- RSS (504 KB)
- HTML (3.8 MB)
- SCORM (3.8 MB)
- OUXML Package (62 KB)
- OUXML File (208 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
- Moodle backup (3.3 MB)
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.