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Animals at the extremes: Polar biology

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The extreme challenges of life in the polar regions require the animals who make their habitat there to make many adaptations. This free course, Animals at the extremes: Polar biology, explores the polar climate and how animals like reindeer, polar bears, penguins, sea life and even humans manage to survive there. It looks at the adaptations to physiological proceses, the environmental effects on diet, activity and fecundity, and contrasts the strategies of aquatic and land-based animals in surviving in this extreme habitat.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • define and use, or recognise definitions and applications of each of the bold terms
  • outline the special features of the polar regions as a habitat and list some contrasts between the Arctic and the Antarctic
  • describe some effects of daylength on feeding, fat deposition and reproduction in arctic animals
  • explain why the environmental controls of appetite, activity level and fecundity are essential adaptations to living at high latitudes and describe some physiological mechanisms involved
  • describe some adaptations of fuel metabolism and bone formation to dormancy in bears.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 14 hours
  • Updated Thursday 24th March 2016
  • Intermediate level
  • Posted under Natural History
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Animals at the extremes: Polar biology


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This course is the third in a series of three on Animals at the extreme. In order to get the most from it you should have previously studiedAnimals at the extreme: the desert environment (S324_1)andAnimals at the extreme: hibernation and torpor

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 3 study in Science [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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