Ferguson, J. Homer Department of Biological Science, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.
Last reviewed:February 2021
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- Physiological characteristics
- Diving species
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Any of various species of diving, air-breathing animals. Diving animals, which are found in every class of terrestrial vertebrates (amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals), are air-breathing species that have almost complete freedom in the aquatic habitat through several specialized physiological adaptations (Fig. 1). Modern technology has allowed the investigation of many mechanisms that permit diving animals to spend long periods of time submerged. These investigations include studies to determine the physiological changes that occur during the dive. Truly aquatic animals have no need for a specialized diving response because they are able to obtain oxygen directly from the water and thus sustain themselves indefinitely in the water. Terrestrial animals, on the other hand, have gone back in varying degrees to the aquatic mode of living in many cases. In all of these cases, the problem of supplying oxygen and nutrients to tissues while submerged with only the physical attributes of a terrestrial animal has been a major specialization. See also: Adaptation (biology); Diving; Physiological ecology (animal); Vertebrata
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