The specialist program was discontinued at the end of the 2007-08 academic year. Students enrolled in this program may finish it. New students will not be allowed to enrol in it.
Comparative animal physiologists compare and contrast the physiological systems of different animal species, or of a single species under difference environmental conditions. This branch of physiology is an experimental science driven by an interest in understanding how physiological systems allow animals to adapt to their individual and ever-changing environments. We seek to answer questions such as: How do aquatic mammals dive for greater than 30 minutes on a single breath of air? Do birds sleep during flight while migrating? How do the heart and brain function of artic and Antarctic fish function at sub-zero temperatures? How do turtles and frog survive at the bottom of ice covered lakes and ponds over winter? By adapting a systems-level approach, from molecules to organisms, comparative animal physiologists are able to understand the emergent properties that arise when physiological components operate as a whole; properties that can not be predicted from knowledge of the individual components alone.
In the animal physiology program instruction will explore a broad array of species living in diverse habitats to emphasize the commonality and differences amongst species. In the first and second years of this program students take courses which provide them with a solid background in both the basic sciences and introductory animal physiology, and cell and molecular biology. In the third and fourth years, we offer a series of courses that provide students with an in depth understanding of the major aspects of physiology which include neurophysiology, respiratory physiology, endocrinology, sleep physiology and comparative cellular physiology. In the last year of study students are encouraged to apply to conduct independent research project courses in the laboratories of physiologists within the Department of Cell and Systems Biology.