My OpenLearn Profile
- Personalise your OpenLearn profile
- Save your favourite content
- Get recognition for your learning
Animals at the extremes: Hibernation and torpor
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.
Course learning outcomes
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.
You can start this course right now without signing-up. Click on any of the course content sections below to start at any point in this course.
If you want to be able to track your progress, earn a free Statement of Participation, and access all course quizzes and activities, sign-up.
- 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 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
Create an account to get more
Track your progress
Review and track your learning through your OpenLearn Profile.
Statement of participation
On completetion of a course you will earn a Statement of participation.
Access all course activities
Take course quizzes and access all learning.
Review the course
When you have finished a course leave a review and tell others what you think.
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 and our FAQs.
Full copyright details can be found in the Acknowledgements section of each week.
For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.Have a question?
Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.
Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.
About this free course
14 hours study
Level 2: Intermediate
Download this course
Free statement of participation on completion of these courses.