Free course

Animals at the extremes: Polar biology

Free statement of participation on completion
Animals at the extremes: Polar biology

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.

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
  • 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.

First Published: 09/08/2012

Updated: 15/04/2020

Take your learning further

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.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371