Physiological ecology (animal)
Porter, Warren Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
Last reviewed:May 2019
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- Methodology and scope
- Temperature regulation, energy metabolism, and energetics
- Water and osmotic balance
- Responses to stress
- Issues of constraints and trade-offs
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A discipline that combines the study of physiological processes (the functions of living organisms and their parts) with ecological processes that connect the individual organism with population dynamics and community structure. Physiological ecology is the study of biophysical, biochemical, and physiological processes used by organisms (for example, animals, as discussed in this article) to cope with factors of their physical environment (Fig. 1), or employed during ecological interactions with other organisms. In the past, physiological ecology focused principally on physiological processes in isolation from each other and without strong quantitative connections to ecological processes. However, the focus has shifted into a dynamic quantitative and more integrated discipline. For example, physiological ecology reaches up to population dynamics and community structure and down to genetic phenomena influencing key endocrine functions that affect behavior, energetics, survival, reproduction, and fitness in diverse environments. See also: Adaptation (biology); Behavioral ecology; Ecological communities; Ecology; Endocrine mechanisms; Endocrine system (vertebrate); Population ecology
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