Kenyon College -- Department of Biology

Biol 243 - Comparative Animal Physiology - Fall 2007
Instructor: Chris Gillen
310 Higley Hall
PBX 5399
email: GILLENC
Office hours

last update - December 10, 2007 2:50 PM

Project instructions
Gillen home page

Overview: This class will explore basic principles of animal physiology using a comparative approach. We will examine the relationship between physiological systems and the physical characteristics of their environments. We will investigate the fundamental principles of physiological systems by observing features that are conserved among a wide diversity of animals. Finally, we will examine the differences between classes of animals in the context of the particular characteristics of each organism's environment.

Prerequisites: Prerequisites for this course are Biol 113 and Biol 110 or permission of the instructor.

Text and reading: The text for this class is Principles of Animal Physiology by Moyes and Schulte, 1st ed.  Required reading is indicated below. Textbook reading forms an important part of the material for this course. It is very important that you read the assigned material in the textbook. We will not cover every detail in every chapter during class and material in lectures will extend beyond that covered in the text. However, reading the entire chapter is a key part of the learning process and will help on the exams. Your Biology 113 textbook is a good place for a general review of basic animal physiology. The textbook has excellent review and synthetic questions at the end of each chapter. At least one question on each exam will be taken from these questions either directly or with minor modifications.

Reserve readings will be assigned some weeks. Please come to class prepared to discuss reserve reading assignments.  Short response papers on the reserve reading will be assigned.

Learning physiology: Physiology is learned best through practice. Although learning facts about physiology is important, a complete understanding of physiology requires an ability to use those facts. How can you "practice" physiology? Carefully reading the textbook and working on the questions at the end of each chapter is a first step. You must also learn to pose your own questions and work through answers to the questions. Working along with others in small groups can help. You may try crafting questions that fall into the following categories:

As a starting point, I have compiled exam and homework questions from the past five years. Click here to view these questions. These are intended to help you see what kind of questions I ask, not to serve as a content review. The specific content covered in this class varies from year to year.

We will practice physiology in small groups during class.

Class attendance and participation: Class attendance is mandatory. Class participation and attendance will account for 10% of your grade. Additionally, there will be a 3 point reduction in the final average for every 3 unexcused absences (no penalty for less than 3 unexcused absences). To receive an A or and A- in this class, you must participate consistently across the entire semester. To participate intelligently in class, it is imperative that you read the assigned material before each class. Please feel free to ask questions, add insights, request clarifications, etc. at any time during class. Speaking in class will be a primary determinant of class participation, but I realize that there are many different styles and will consider other contributions.

This class begins at 8:10. Please be prepared to begin class at 8:10. This means arriving at about 8:05. Late arrivals will be counted as absences. Excessive unexcused absence or tardiness (more than 6 times during the semester) are grounds for expulsion from the class.

Project: Two papers will be assigned: a research paper summary and a research paper commentary. See the project instructions.

Standards for submitted work: Work submitted in this class must conform to the following basic standards or it will be returned for revision without a grade.

Exams: Exams will be composed of short answer, multiple choice, and/or essay questions. You will be allowed to bring into the exam one sheet of 8.5" X 11" paper with notes in your own handwriting (not a computer-generated printout) on one side of the page only. You will hand in the note sheet with the exam. Beware: these note sheets are not a substitute for studying. Many students report that they never consult their note sheets.

Want to see what my exams are like? Many of my exam and weekly assignment questions from the past five years on compiled here.

At least one question on each exam will be one of the review or synthesis questions from the assigned chapter readings, or a modification of one of these questions.

Academic honesty:This class will follow the official Kenyon College position on academic honesty .

Students with special needs: Students with disabilities who will be taking this course and may need disability related academic accommodations are encouraged to make an appointment to see me as soon as possible to discuss your learning needs. Also, you are required to register for support services with the Office of Disability Services. Please contact Erin Salva at 5453 or e-mail

You are entitled to know how you are doing at any point in the class. Please see me if you want to know your current grade in the class.
Exam 1 = 20%
Exam 2 = 20%
Final exam = 20%
Project = 30%
Attendance, response papers, and participation = 10%

Extra credit: Connection papers. If you see a connection between this class and something else in your life (another class, a sports event, something in the news, a seminar that you attend, etc), write a 1 page paper (no more than 1 page, double spaced, 12 pont font) describing the connection. If you are willing to describe the connection in class, please indicate so. You may hand in up to 5 connection papers during the semester, but you may not hand in more than one per week. They will count towards the class attendance and participation grades.

Deadlines and conflicts:  Work in this class that is handed in late will be penalized 1/3 grade per day.  For example, a B+ will become a B.  If conflicts exist with scheduled extracurricular events, students must contact me one week before the date to discuss ways to handle the conflict.  In the case of exams, it is expected that students will take the exam before the scheduled date.  Written assignments should be handed in before the due date if a class is to be missed because of a scheduled event.
Schedule:  (this is a tentative schedule, and may change as the course progresses)

(click on date for notes. campus readers only)

Aug 28
Aug 30
Intro to Physiology Chap 1
Chap 2 35-48 (review)
Chap 3 89-103 (review)
Somero GN (2000) Unity in Diversity: A Perspective on the Methods, Contributions, and Future of Comparative Physiology Annual Review of Physiology 62: 927-937.
Sept 4
Sept 6
Ion transport

Chap 3 81-89
Chap 2 20-35, 48-61 (review)


Sept 11
Sept 13

Cell Signaling

Chap 4

Research article: Johnson EC, Shafer OT, Trigg JS, Park J, Schooley DA, Dow JA, and Taghert PH. (2005) A novel diuretic hormone receptor in Drosophila: evidence for conservation of CGRP signaling. J. Exp. Biol. 208: 1239-1246.

Summary: van Bergen, Y. (2005) Evolution conserves hormone receptors J. Exp. Biol. 208(7): i - i.

Response 1 - Sept 13

Sept 18
Sept 20


Chap 5
Chap 8 302-312

Research article: Rocheleau JV, Remedi MS, Granada B, Head WS, Koster JC, et al. (2006) Critical Role of Gap Junction Coupled KATP Channel Activity for Regulated Insulin Secretion PLoS Biol 4(2): e26

Summary: Chanut F (2006) Potassium Channels Rule over Insulin Release with an Ion Fist. PLoS Biol 4(2): e53

Response 2 - Sept 20
Sept 25
Sept 27
Peripheral nervous system

Chap 8 320-328
Chap 6
Chap 3 62-81 (review)

* Vale lab animations (external link)
* Fish sounds (external link)

Summary Proposal - Sept 25

Oct 2
Oct 4
Exam 1
Chap 6
Exam 1 Oct 4
Oct 11

Locomotion and energetics

Chap 13 546-564, 587-597
  Summary Due Oct 11
Oct 16
Oct 18
Circulation Chap 9

Research article: Kemper WF, Lindstedt SL, Hartzler LK, Hicks JW, Conley KE. (2001) Shaking up glycolysis: Sustained, high lactate flux during aerobic rattling. PNAS 98(2):723-8.

Commentary: Gladden LB. (2001) Lactic acid: New roles in a new millennium. PNAS 98(2): 395 - 397.

Response 3 - Oct 18
Oct 23
Oct 25
Chap 9
Chap 10

Research article: Calbet JAL, Jensen-Urstad M, van Hall G, Holmberg HC, Rosdahl H, and Saltin B. (2004) Maximal muscular vascular conductances during whole body upright exercise in humans J Physiol 558: 319-331.

Commentary: Saltin B, and Calbet JAL (2006) Point: In health and in a normoxic environment, VO2 max is limited primarily by cardiac output and locomotor muscle blood flow. J Appl Physiol 100: 744-748.

Response 4 - Oct 25
Oct 30
Nov 1
Chap 10


Nov 6
Nov 8
Chap 12 --

Commentary draft - Nov 6

Nov 13
Nov 15

Exam 2
Ion and water balance
Chap 11


Exam 2 - Nov 15
Nov 27
Nov 29
Ion and water balance Chap 11  
Dec 4
Dec 6

Dec 4: Body weight regulation

Dec 6: Sex differences

Dec 6: Chap 15, p. 655-662

Dec 4:
Lee NK, Sowa H, Hinoi E, Ferron M, Ahn JD, Confavreux C, Dacquin R, Mee PJ, McKee MD, Jung DY, Zhang Z, Kim JK, Mauvais-Jarvis F, Ducy P, Karsenty G. Endocrine regulation of energy metabolism by the skeleton. Cell. 2007 Aug 10;130(3):456-69.
Jeffrey S. Flier Obesity Wars: Molecular Progress Confronts an Expanding Epidemic Cell 2004 116: 337-350.
Wisse, BE, Kim, F, and Schwartz, MW. 2007. An integrative view of obesity. Science 318: 928-929. (see moodle site).

Dec 6:
Virginia H. Huxley. 2007. Sex and the cardiovascular system: the intriguing tale of how women and men regulate cardiovascular function differently. Advan. Physiol. Edu. 31: 17-22.
Qi Fu, Armin Arbab-Zadeh, Merja A. Perhonen, Rong Zhang, Julie H. Zuckerman, and Benjamin D. Levine. 2004. Hemodynamics of orthostatic intolerance: implications for gender differences. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 286: H449-H457.


Commentary due - Dec 6
Dec 11
Extreme cold

Chap 14



Dec 14th, 6:30

    Exam 3 = Final Dec 14th 6:30: Cumulative exam with a focus on the material since Exam 2.  

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