Scheda programma d'esame
Anno accademico2022/23
PeriodoSecondo semestre

Obiettivi di apprendimento
Learning outcomes
  • An academic title in Marine Biology must include a good knowledge of the physiologic adaptations of marine animals to the marine environment. The course aim is to provide the basics to understand the relationships between marine animals and their environment.
  • At the end of the course, the student will have acquired knowledge about the physiologic mechanisms allowing different species of marine animals to adapt to their environment, that is interact with the external world and regulate their own internal processes.
Modalità di verifica delle conoscenze
Assessment criteria of knowledge
  • The knowledge acquired by the student during the course will be assessed during the final examination.
  • At the end of the course, the student will be able to understand how the different functions of an organism can be optimally executed in different environmental conditions and in the presence of different behavioral habits.
Modalità di verifica delle capacità
Assessment criteria of skills
  • The skills acquired by the student during the course will be assessed during the final examination.
Prerequisiti (conoscenze iniziali)
  • Fisiologia generale a livello di laurea triennale
  • General Physiology
Teaching methods
  • Face to face delivery with Power Point presentations
  • The presentations are available upon request
  • For information and appointments, contact the teacher (
  • Adaptation and marine environment: Adaptation, environment, homeostasis. The different zones of the marine environment. Phyisico–chemical characteristics.
  • Summary of neuron and synapse physiology: Membrane potential. Action potential. The synapse. Neuronal integration. Signal transduction.
  • Sensing the environment: The lateral line system. Hearing. Sound emission and echolocation. Electroreceptors and electric organs. Chemoreception. Vision and bioluminescence. Magnetism.
  • The endocrine system: Hormones and endocrine glands. The endocrine control of reproduction. Pineal gland and melatonin.
  • Thermoregulation: Thermal exchanges. Ectotherms, Endotherms, Homeotherms. Adaptations to cold. Adaptations to heat. Regional endothermy. Non-shivering thermogenesis in mammals.
  • Movement and swimming: Muscle contraction. Viscous and inertial resistance. Reaction propulsion in cephalopods. Tentacles and suckers. Red and whithe muscles. Sound-making muscles. Swimming.
  • Buoyancy: Archimedes' Principle. Morphologic adaptations. Heavy and light ions. Fats and oils. Air chambers. The swim bladder: the Bohr effect and the Root effect, gas secretion and reabsorption, nervous regulation. Buoyancy in marine mammals.
  • Respiration: Fick’s law of diffusion. Ventilation. Aquatic respiration. Gill respiration in fishes. Adaptations to low oxygen availability. Lung respirations in reptiles, birds, and mammals. Adaptations to immersion: the dive reflex. Respiratory gas transport. Breathing regulation.
  • Heart and circulation: Open and closed circulatory systems. The heart: the cardiac tissues and the auto-rhythmic activity. Regulation of cardiac activity and of  arterial pressure. Heart and circulation in marine invertebrates and vertebrates. Adaptations of the circulatory system in marine mammals.
  • Excretion and osmoregulation: Osmosis and osmotic pressure. Ammonotelic, ureotelic, and uricotelic organisms. The mammalian kidney: structure and functions. Nephridia of marine invertebrates. Urea e TMAO in elasmobranchs. The renal function in marine and freshwater teleosts. Salt glands.
  • Feeding and digestion: Nutrients and digestive system. Feeding mechanisms is fish, reptiles, and mammals. The digestive tract in fishes: Pyloric caeca, the spiral valve. The digestive tract in reptiles: Esophageal corneous papillae. The digestive tract in marine mammals: The concamerated stomach of cetaceans.
  • Randall D., Burggren W. e French K. “Animal Physiology”
  • Original scientific papers (references are indicated in the Power Points)
  • Power Points
Indicazioni per non frequentanti
Non-attending students info
  • There are no particular indications for non-frequenting students. For information or elucidations (on the course organization or on lecture contents), please contact the teacher (
Assessment methods
  • Written exam. This exam consists of 15 questions with one answer to choose among four possibilities and two open questions. 
Ultimo aggiornamento 01/08/2022 09:50