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Animal life has adapted to survive in the most unlikely and inhospitable habitats. This free course, Animals at the extremes: The desert environment, looks at the surprisingly diverse desert climates throughout the world and mammals, birds, lizards and amphibians that survive there. It splits these animals into three groups according to their strategy for survival: evaders, evaporators and endurers, then discusses how these strategies work on a biochemical and physiological level.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- define and use, or recognise definitions and applications of, each of the bold terms
- provide examples that show there is a continuum of desert climates and environments that link to diversity of flora and fauna
- explain, with examples, the thermoregulatory strategies of evaders, evaporators and endurers, and interpret relevant data
- describe the importance of integration of behaviour, anatomy, physiology and biochemistry in the study of animals that live in deserts
- explain physiological mechanisms of water conservation and cooling in named evaders, evaporators and endurers, and interpret relevant data.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 The desert climate: An introduction
- 2 Environments and populations
- 3 Integrating across levels of analysis
- 3.1 Introduction
- 3.2 Integration of anatomy and behaviour with biochemical and physiological strategies in evaders
- 3.3 Integration of anatomical features and biochemical and physiological strategies in evaporators
- 3.4 Integration of anatomical features and biochemical and physiological strategies in endurers
- 3.5 Summary of Section 3
- 4 Integrating across disciplines
- 5 Integrating across species
- 6 Phylogeny and cladistic analysis
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 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: The desert environment
This course is the first in a series of three on Animals at the extreme. It is concerned with the integration of behaviour anatomy, physiology and biochemistry in diverse vertebrates that live in deserts. Once you have completed this course, you will be all the more able to appreciate the linked courses that follow, Animals at the extreme: hibernation and torpor and Animals at the extreme: the polar environment. These courses build on and develop some of the science you will study here.
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: Wednesday, 2nd March 2016
Last updated on: Wednesday, 2nd 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.
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