BIOL-21400 Animal Physiology Fall 2013

 Lecture:     M,W,F     11:00CNS-1A (formerly CNS 117)
 Lab:           Tues.  1-3:50, CNS 107

Dr. Andrew Smith, 155 CNS, 274-3975, e-mail:
Office Hours:  M 4-4:50, W 4-4:50;  or any time by appointment

TEXT:              Hill et al. Animal Physiology (3rd edition)

Note:  Previous editions are fine, but the chapter and page numbers may be different.


            Animal physiology is the study of how animals work:  for example, how nerves work, how muscles work, or how kidneys work.  In addition, it is the study of how these systems work together to maintain the body's internal conditions (temperature, pH, salt balance, etc...) and how changes in those conditions can affect the systems.  We will take a comparative approach, looking at humans and a wide range of animals.   Studying variation in performance across a range of different animals can show us how far the systems can be pushed to adapt to extreme demands, what features can be changed to alter performance, and what trade-offs must be made. 

            To understand physiology, it is essential to develop your ability to think analytically, critically and integratively.  It is not enough to memorize facts about physiological systems.  You must be able to see general principles, and understand variation and how that variation impacts performance.  Furthermore, the function of each physiological system depends on the others – they are integrated.  Thus, you must be able to see connections and integrate and apply what you learn. 



            Lecture is designed to provide a basic understanding of the physiological systems and to develop your analytical, critical and integrative thinking skills.  During lecture, I will present background information for each topic, then introduce examples, demonstrations, or key experiments and ask you to predict what would happen or to interpret the results.  During lecture time, you should be actively thinking in addition to taking notes.  Correspondingly, the exams will test your understanding of how physiological systems work and your ability to apply that understanding analytically and integratively.


            The laboratory provides the opportunity for experimentation with a variety of physiological systems.  You will gain an understanding of the how the systems work, and have the opportunity to develop your analytical and integrative skills.  Typically, you will do a few weeks of guided experiments on different systems, then will have a week or two to do an independent project on those systems.  You will repeat this several times throughout the semester. 

Course learning goals:

1.      To gain an understanding of the following:

a.       how the major physiological systems operate

b.      th general principles underlying these processes

2.      To develop your ability to do the following:

a.       interpret factors that affect performance of the systems in different situations

b.      identify connections between systems, and infer when connections are likely to exist

c.       interpret physiological data and present reasonable explanations for any observations

d.      analyze complex problems, either experimentally or logically

Performance evaluation:


Lecture exams

3 x 100 points each

Final Exam

1 x 150 points

Pre-lecture assessments

40 x 1 point each

Problem sets

6 x 10 points each

Lab projects

3 x 50 points each


700 Points
Grade scale:    A = 93-100,  A- = 90-92, B+ = 87-89, B = 83-86,  B- = 80-82,  C+  = 77-79, 

                        C = 73-76,  C- = 70-72,  D+ = 67-69,  D = 63-66,  D- = 60-62,  F < 60
There is no extra credit.
Academic Honesty:

            All work in this class must be your own, unless stated otherwise.  Confirmed instances of academic misconduct will result in a zero for that test/assignment and referral to the school judiciary system.  Please refer to the Student Handbook for a detailed description of the policies regarding student academic conduct.


            We will use Sakai extensively in this course.  Pre-lecture assessments will be taken using Sakai, and all grades will be posted there.  Course information will be available through Sakai, including lab handouts, syllabi, problem sets, project guidelines and practice exams.


            Lectures:  Attendance is expected.  There is no automatic point deduction for missing occasional classes, but it is very difficult to keep up with the material if you miss a class. 

            Exams:  If you have a substantial time conflict with an exam, you must contact me at least a week before the exam is scheduled.  If you are sick on the day of the exam, you or a friend must contact me before the start of the exam.  If you are too ill to do this, then contact me as soon as possible afterwards.  In either case, leaving a voice mail or e-mail message is sufficient.  Afterwards, you will have to provide written documentation with your excuse.  There will be no penalty assessed for excused absences.  If you fail to notify me adequately, however, you will have to apply in writing for a make-up exam.  There is no guarantee that I will allow a make-up, and I will assess a penalty of up to a full letter grade on that exam for the failure to notify me.

            Laboratory:  Laboratory attendance is mandatory except during the projects.  Unexcused absences will result in a ten point deduction from the next lab quiz. 


Accommodation:  In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case by case basis.  Students must register with the Office of Academic Support Services (607-274-1005, TDD 607-274-7319, and schedule an appointment with their instructors as soon as possible to discuss their needs.





Lecture topic





Nervous system

Introduction / Membranes

Ion gradients and equilibria

Ch 5 Transport of solutes + water






Labor day

Resting and action potentials

Signal transmission and synapses


Ch 12 Neurons (295-316)

Ch 12 (316-end) + Ch 13

Intro to electronic measurement





Synaptic integration

Senses:  chemical and mechanical

Senses:  hearing and vision    (prob set #1)

Ch 13 Synapses

Ch 14 Sensory

Nerve function







Senses:  vision continued

Cellular basis for contraction and neural control

Factors affecting endurance   (prob set #2)


Ch 20 Muscle


Ch 21 Movement + muscle

Sensory-motor integration





Factors affecting speed

Exam I

Scaling:  the effect of size


Muscle function






Respiration and gases

Breathing air vs. water

Lungs and breathing mechanisms   (PS #3)

Ch 22 O2 and CO2 physiol

Ch 23 External Respiration

Project 1





Blood and oxygen carrying capacity

Oxygen dissociation, Blood clotting

Physical factors affecting flow

Ch 24 Transport of O2+CO2


Ch 25 Circulation


Project 1





The importance of pressure

Cardiac output and performance     (PS #4)

Fall Break


Heart demo

Project 1









Capillary beds and delivery

Diving:  working without breathing

Exam II, Thurs. evening 10/24

Digestion and metabolism overview


Ch 26 Diving


Ch 6 Nutrition/digestion

ECG, EMG, blood pressure







Enzymatic digestion

Digesting the nearly indigestible

Energy storage and metabolism      (PS #5)



Ch 7-9 Energy metabolism

Project II





Dealing with temperature change

Freezing temperatures

Regulating body temperature

Ch 10 Thermal relations


Project II





Osmoregulation and excretion

Regulating body temperature

Regulation in aquatic envt.

Mammalian kidneys              (prob set #6)


Ch 27+28 Water/salt physiol

Ch 29 Kidneys and excretion

Metabolic rate





The nephron

Analysis of nephron function

Exam III


Fluid Balance



Thanksgiving break







Endocrine system

Control of kidneys / Intro to hormones

Feedback control, types of hormones

Pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid


Ch 16 Endocrine

Project III





Pancreas, adrenals


Gender differentiation


Project III


Final exam:  Monday December 16,  10:30 –1:00 pm




Evaluation Criteria for Physiology Laboratory Projects



No evidence
(0 points)

Approaches goal
(1 point)

Meets goal
(2 points)

Exceeds goal
(3 points)

1. Hypothesis generation:  Generates a clearly stated hypothesis that is interesting and derives logically from background information.

0 1 2 3

2. Experimental design: Designs an experiment that will test the hypothesis effectively, using quantitative data and appropriate controls.

0 1 2 3

3. Accuracy and Precision: Demonstrates the ability to make accurate measurements to appropriate precision and to judge the reasonableness of the results.

0 1 2 3

4. Calculations:  Can manipulate data as needed using mathematics and mathematical conversions.

0 1 2 3

5. Analysis:  Summarizes data effectively and accurately, draws appropriate conclusions and evaluates their strength.

0 1 2 3

6. Laboratory Report: Communicates conclusions in a complete, clear, and organized way.

0 1 2 3


Scoring Guidelines:


***To receive an A on a project, I would expect scores of 2 or 3 in all categories.  Note that the numerical scale covers a range that essentially goes from “completely incapable” to “PhD level researcher”.  You don’t have to be a PhD level researcher to get an A.  In other words, I don’t put the raw scores on my grade sheet -- all 2’s is not 12 out of 18, it corresponds to someone who is meeting all the goals and is thus sufficient for an A or B.

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Last updated  8/19/13