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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.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Polar biology
- 2 Environmental regulation of physiological processes
- 3 Natural feasting and fasting
- 4 Thermal insulation
- 5 Polar ectotherms
- 6 Conclusion
- Course questions
- Keep on learning
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: Polar biology
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.
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.
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