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Animal Physiology

An Environmental Perspective

Patrick J. Butler, J. Anne Brown, D. George Stephenson, and John R. Speakman

Publication Date - April 2021

ISBN: 9780199655458

1104 pages
10.9 x 8.6 inches


Wild animals survive in a variety of complex environments; they are exposed to predictable and unpredictable changes in their particular environment on a daily or seasonal basis. However, we live through times when almost all natural environments are undergoing relatively rapid change, and many of these changes, such as the pollution of air and water, removal of natural food sources, environment fragmentation, and climate change, are the result of human activity. Animal Physiology: an environmental perspective shows how an understanding of the physiology of animals in their natural habitats helps us to understand not only how and why animals evolved the way they did, but how we can act to protect at least some of them from the extreme effects of the changes affecting their environments.

Part One sets the foundation for the topics covered in the remainder of the book by introducing a range of fundamental processes that are essential to life. It considers the diversity of habitats on Earth in which animals live, and examines animal groups and their evolutionary relationships. It then explores the different feeding strategies used by animals to obtain the energy they require to carry out all the essential functions of life, and how animals convert the chemical energy in food molecules into the energy they need to power all body functions. Finally, it explores the general properties of animal cells, and how animals maintain a suitable internal environment in which their cells are protected from external influences. We then examine those fundamental principles governing the main exchanges between the cells within animals, and between an animal and its environment.

Parts two to four of the book explore how different organ systems - respiratory and circulatory systems, excretory organs and endocrine systems - enable animals to interact with their environment, and how environmental temperature profoundly affects the physiology of animals.

Part five considers how the sensory and nervous systems provide animals with information on their internal as well as their external environment, and how they, together with the endocrine system, are involved in the control and co-ordination of muscles, reproduction, salt and water balance, and the cardio-respiratory systems.

Online resources

For students:
- Original articles: a list of original articles consulted during the writing of each chapter so that you can explore the original research for yourself.
- Additional case studies and experimental approach panels to augment those in the printed book.
- Answers to numerical questions: full solutions to numerical questions so that you can verify your working.

For registered adopters of the text:
- Digital image library: Includes electronic files in JPG format of every illustration, photo, graph and table from the text


  • The only text to take an evolutionary approach to show how physiological systems allow animals to adapt to their changing environments
  • The main narrative focuses on key concepts, and panels expand on particular topics or themes, helping students to grasp difficult concepts in a progressive, layered way.
  • A robust yet accessible introduction to the physical and chemical properties of the environments in which animals live helps students to avoid a superficial or confused understanding of this often challenging aspect of the subject
  • Carefully chosen examples illustrate how different groups of animals have evolved different solutions to deal with the environmental problems they face
  • The exploration of real world issues such as climate change and pollution from the point of view of their physiological effects on animals shows how our understanding of such topics can be translated into new approaches to conservation.

About the Author(s)

Patrick J. Butler is Professor of Comparative Physiology in the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham.

J. Anne Brown is Emeritus Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter.

D. George Stephenson is Emeritus Professor in the School of Life Sciences at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.

John R. Speakman is Professor of Zoology in the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Aberdeen.


"For a course more focused on animal physiology, this would certainly work as an appropriate, comprehensive textbook, especially as it includes all of the basics that students would, in theory, know before taking a physiology course, but have surely forgotten ... Overall, the volume is a considerable achievement -- and one that I am happy to have, especially in an electronic format." -- Theodore Garland Jr., Quarterly Review of Biology

Table of Contents

    1. Animal diversity and interactions with natural environments
    2. Energy metabolism - generating energy from food
    3. Cells, organisms and interactions with their environment
    4. Body fluid regulation: principles and processes
    5. Osmotic and ionic regulation in an aquatic environment
    6. Water balance of land animals
    7. Kidneys and excretion
    8. Effects of temperature on chemical and biological processes and the principles of heat exchange
    9. Temperature and ectotherms
    10. Temperature and endotherms
    11. The respiratory gases, gas exchange and transport: general characteristics and principles
    12. Respiratory systems
    13. Transport of respiratory gases and metabolic substrates, acid-base balance
    14. Cardiovascular systems
    15. Environmental and behavioural influences on the cardio-respiratory system
    16. Neurons, nerves and nervous systems
    17. How animals are made aware of their environment
    18. Muscles and animal movement
    19. Hormones
    20. Reproduction
    21. Control of calcium, sodium and water balance
    22. Rhythm generation, control and integration of the respiratory and circulatory systems

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