Subject: Animals in extreme habitat

Robert Kenney (
Mon, 7 Dec 1998 10:09:44 -0500

At 18:44 12/6/98 -0500, you wrote:
>My name is Iroso and I am a biological science student.  I am supposed
>to be doing a research involving life in an extreme habitat.  What
>animals in particular do you find that lives in the most extreme
>habitat, and what are the adaptaions (physiological, behavioral)that the
>animal has made to be able to survive in that habitat? 
>A reply would be greatly appreciated.
This question sounds very familiar - it's one that I frequently include as a
long discussion question on final exams in vertebrate biology.  For
vertebrates, extreme environments include those that are very hot and dry
(deserts), very cold (polar regions, deep sea), salty, or variable over
short time scales (intertidal zones, estuaries), and marine mammals are not
the best examples of vertebrates living in extreme habitats.  But if I gave
you the entire answer, then you would not really be doing the research which
is the point of your assignment (or learning anything).  Here is a good
place to start:  the textbook I use for vertebrate bio is "Vertebrate Life",
fourth edition, by F. Harvey Pough, John B. Heiser, and William N. McFarland
(Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1996).  Chapter 16 "Ectothermy: A
low-cost approach to life" (pp. 497-519) and Chapter 22 "Endothermy: A
high-energy approach to life" (pp. 683-710) both spend a lot of time on
vertebrate adaptations to extreme environments, and will give you enough
references to dig further into the literature.

Dr. Bob

 | Robert D. Kenney, Ph.D.              |
 | University of Rhode Island                                        |
 | Graduate School of Oceanography                                   |
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