Animal Physiology 3. Digestion and metabolism
What you'll learn
- Understand the nature of metabolic fuels and their role in sustaining metabolism.
- Understand how the oxidation of carboydrates differs from oxidation of lipids, and how they are similar.
- Understand the unique metabolic challenges of using amino acids as fuels.
- Understand the fundamentals of digestion, including how food is broken down into absorbable nutrients in the gut.
- Understand how carbohydrates, amino acids and lipids are absorbed across the intestinal epithelium, and the mechanisms that power absorption.
- Understand the optimization principles underlying gut design, and how these principles guide the adaptations of guts to varying food quality.
- Understand how gut function is controlled by the network of neural and hormonal feedbacks within the gut.
- Understand the higher level control of appetite, including how these integrate with gut level control mechanisms.
- Understand the nature of the metabolic rate, including that it is fundamentally an energy consumption rate.
- Understand the major sources of variation in metabolic rate among the animals, including body size and metabolic 'lifestyle.'
- A basic knowledge of physics, biology and mathematics through algebra. High school level is adequate, introductory college level is preferable.
Animal physiology is, to use a common phrase, how animals work.
Animals are, in one sense, machines, and the aim of the science of physiology is to understand how these machines function—what drives them, how they operate, the interaction of the various systems they comprise, and the physical and chemical constraints on how they work.
Animals are also organisms, and this course is intended to help you understand how animals work as integrated units, i.e. as organisms. We will be concerned with how organisms’ various components work to keep an animal alive, with how these are coordinated, and how the various types of animals, despite their disparate evolutionary histories, solve common physiological problems, sometimes in remarkably innovative ways.
This course is the third in a series of courses that, together, would be the equivalent of a one-semester course in animal physiology. I strongly recommend that you take the first two courses in the series, Animal Physiology 1. Respiration and gas exchange, and Animal Physiology 2. Blood and circulation, before you take this course. The next course in the series is Animal Physiology 4. Temperature, water and metabolic rate.
This course is intended for the upper-division biology student. It is also a good course for graduate students and practicing professionals looking for a brush-up course in animal physiology. I presume that you come into this course with the background in chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology that can be reasonably expected of a senior biology student.
The course consists of about six hours of video clips, parceled into seven lectures.
Who this course is for:
- This course is aimed at the upper-division and graduate student in the life sciences.
- Life-long learners interested in the nature of adaptation and the biology of animals can also profit from this course.
- This course is not intended for the lower-division college biology student, or for students in high school biology.
I am a Professor of Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York.
I am a physiologist by training but with a deep interest in the interface of physiology, ecology, adaptation and evolution. You can read some of my thoughts in two books I have published: The Extended Organism: The Physiology of Animal-Built Structures (2000) and The Tinkerer's Accomplice: How Design Emerges from Life Itself (2007), both published by Harvard University Press. I have completed a third book, Purpose and Desire: What Makes Something Alive and Why Modern Darwinisms Fails to Explain It, which was published in September 2017 by HarperOne. You can find out more about me at my web site (link above).
My current research focuses on the problem of emergent physiology in social insect colonies. specifically the mound building termites of southern Africa.