University Subjects

ZOOL20006: Comparative Animal Physiology

ZOOL20006: Comparative Animal Physiology

University of Melbourne
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9 years ago

2x written task sheets (15%), 1x scientific report (20%), 1x 3 hour written exam (multiple choice, short answer, extender answer) (65%).
If anyone has done Human Physiology, this subject is REALLY similar. Pretty much all the concepts you covered in Human Phys will be transferrable to this subject, or vice versa, but I feel Human Phys goes into much more detail. With that said, even though they are similar that does not mean you can skip them due to the many animal related examples you are expected to remember.

Some of the topics I covered (in order) include:

. Adaptation, acclimation, acclimatization, homeostasis (2 lectures)
. Hormones and pathways of hormone action (1 lecture, though similar content is also found in other topics)
. Osmoregulation (3 lectures)
. Stress response (2 lectures)
. Nutrition and metabolism (2 lectures)
. Thermoregulation (1 lecture)
. Cardiovascular system (3 lectures)
. Neural (3 lectures)
. Respiritory system (2 lectures)
. Reproduction (2 lectures)
. Environmental impacts on reproduction (2 lectures)
The exam was very generous. You get 3 hours to an exam worth 65 marks: 20 marks multiple choice (20 questions), 25 marks short answers (5 questions), 20 marks extended (2 questions). So those of you who done Biology first year, it is somewhat similar (I emphasize somewhat). The multiple choice should be a breeze if you studied all the lectures. Unlike Human Phys it is not necessarily these “apply your knowledge” questions, rather recall what you remember from your lectures. So rote learning is the way to go (for all MC and SA and EA). The short answer and extended answer will require you to write quite a bit. They are worth 5 marks a question (for short answer) and 10 marks (for extended answer), so you have to vomit all of that information you studied onto the page to make sure you get full marks. Note however that you are able to choose the 4 questions out of 6 for short answer you want to answer and 1 question out of 2 for extended answer. You have to do one compulsory question based on the prac 5 and CAL for both of these sections. In preparation I was given some practise exam questions on the task sheets (as mentioned before) which they will release example answers along the semester (be warned that they do not release it immediately, for task sheet 4 for example the practise exam answers were released in the week before the exam started). The thing is, that some of the points you mention are worth 0.5 marks instead of the expected 1, so you have to be pretty detailed.

Content from practical 5 and the CAL lab were on the exam so learn those! I made the mistake of just skimming through practical 5 and I had no idea what GSI or HSI units meant for the extended answer question despite it being bolded on the practical manual (everything you need to know should be in these). I also found the compulsory prac 5 question for extended quite tricky. It asked you to describe a table of data (fish characteristics e.g. height, weight, sex, GSI, HSI, etc, same table you would have seen in the prac) and an image (microscopic fish gonad specimens), and then interpret it and how you would test that your interpretations were true. Quite unusual compared to the standard question. I didn’t know exactly what the key things that you had to describe, so I couldn’t focus my answer and just wrote on as many things that I could think off e.g. any trends and relationships between the various variables. In retrospect, I guess it was more testing your knowledge of describing data in pracs. Other prep tools included 3 past exams (only short and extended answer section) no answers and 1 multiple choice exam section with answers released close to exam time. Overall, the exam was super fair and if you study the content thoroughly you can do very well.

There were also these things called animals of the week on lms. I wasn’t sure what they were and no really explained to me their importance until near the exam. Basically, they are more details about some of the examples used in the early lectures. If you were to use them as examples in the exam you would get bonus marks.
Overall I really liked this subject. It wasn’t all too stressful or complicated, the assessment was fair and I was able to do a lot of cool stuff. Definitely consider it if you are interested in zoology or if you didn’t get into research physiology.
The lecture content is not all too tough. Unlike first year Biology however, you would want to remember all the examples they give you. Examples are your friends, because you can use them as part of your answers in your exams. Also, compared with my other subjects, there are fewer lectures which you will have to study. Throughout the semester you will get these research lectures which are basically a “you might find this interesting” lecture. While you don’t have to remember everything about these lectures in super detail, using the content in these lectures as examples in the exam (short answer or long answer) will get you extra marks according to what I was told by the lecturers. So I encourage those who are doing the subjects to not skip out on them. But if you find you don’t have enough study time to go through them, don’t stress. Surprisingly by the last 3 weeks you would usually only get 2 lectures a week or less (also happened a few times during semester as well), giving you a chance to catch up if you need to or start early preparation for your exams; but seriously don’t fall behind in the first place.

Lecturing quality was pretty consistent. No bad things to say about them really except I was unlucky and there were times where lecture recordings mucked up and there were no replacement lectures. Some lecturers may choose to upload previously recorded lectures online, others do not. So if you rely on lecture recordings (like me!) you have to accept some of the risks. Oh, Laura is also a really great enthusiastic lecturer but will name and shame you if you bust in the front lecture door 15 minutes late. So be respectful and try to come in early or through the back door if you are late.
Lectopia Enabled
Yes, with screen capture etc.
Laura Parry
Tim Jessop
Andrew Allen
Angelina Fong
Mark Green
Kathryn Hassell
In place of tests, you get practicals which will teach you how to write scientific reports. Not those ones you did in Chemistry where you just had a brief discussion and conclusion, but ones where you are expected to find academic sources as reference. So get used to using Google Scholar, Melbourne uni discovery and how to read a scientific paper (there should be plenty of resources on the internet). They won’t throw you into the deep end immediately, but will slowly build up to a complete report over time. Each report, builds on from the previous not in the information that you will be discussing, but the sections. E.g. first report was not really a report but was about statistical analysis, the second you had to include an abstract and a result section, the third you had to include abstract, result, and discussion, you get the picture. Those of you with statistics background may have an advantage (I did not do statistics) as you are required to perform some statistical analysis with some of the data you obtain from the practicals. There are instructions that will be posted on the lms, so it shouldn’t be all too bad. But of course if you are confused, you can always use the discussion board or email a lecturer. Go through the reports when you are done very carefully, as you can lose marks for neglecting some small things and finish them ASAP. Given that you are provided with a generous amount of time to finish, you want to submit your papers right on time to receive feedback and improve your next report (late papers won’t receive feedback). Otherwise, you are just doing yourself a disservice. You will not be able to do a good job at the last minute, because the number of readings you have to do and their complexity can be quite intense. As for what I actually did in the pracs, it was pretty neat. Working in groups of 4, I was able to examine the effect of vasotocin on frogs by literally injecting the hormone into cane toads using a needle. I looked at the metabolic rate of mice and bees. I was able to see a “zombie” frog heart beat in a ringer solution. So yes, you will be using live animals instead of looking at plants (not hating on plants, but they are pretty boring). Furthermore, the practicals related to the lecture content, which was fantastic.

The pacing is very chill compared to Chemistry, and therefore you don’t have to rush to get your data; you have 3 hours to do everything which is plenty of time if you work at a regular pace. The tutors are also very kind and easily approachable. This doesn’t mean you should slack off and talk to your neighbour; it just means that you shouldn’t be feeling like you are in an episode of Master Chef. So 5 pracs in total with 1 CAL lab. The last prac (5th) is not assessed, however you will have a compulsory exam question in extended response. This prac required me to examine the development of abnormal gonads in fish, where you basically dissected a fish to examine its gonads and also look at some pre-prepared microscope slides to examine deviations in structure. DRAW OUT WHAT YOU SEE UNDER THE SCOPE!!! TAKE NOTES!!! FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS!!! While there may not be an assessed report, they can test you on images and data (further detail when I describe exams). As for CAL labs, you are basically given a simulated experiment on a computer (A “flash game” one of the tutors described it) and answer questions on a task sheet as you progress through. Answer all the questions to the best of your ability, because they too are part of a compulsory exam question in short answer. This reminds me, the other pracs you also get task sheets that have practise exam questions and questions based on the prac. I only did the exam questions because I was lazy, but the questions relating to the prac can give you ideas on what to mention in your report.
Past Exams Available
Yes. 3x short + extended answer section (no answers), 1x multiple choice section (answers).
Textbook Recommendation
Hill, Wyse & Anderson, Animal Physiology, 3rd Ed, Sinauer Associates Inc. 2012.
I didn't use it all that much to be honest. Only used it as a substitute when I wanted to clarify something or when the lecture recordings were down. Also used it as reference for my prac report; though a very minor part. *Cough* Download *Cough*
3x 1 hour lecture per week (sometimes less), 5x 3 hour practicals, 1x 3 hour CAL lab (towards end of semester).
Year & Semester Of Completion
Semester 2, 2014.

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10 years ago

2 written task sheets associated with practical work, up to a total of approximately 10 pages due at dates distributed across the first 7 weeks of the semester (15% = 2.5 + 5 + 7.5); a scientific report of up to the equivalent of 2000 words due in week 10 of the semester (20%); a 2½-hour written examination during the examination period (65%)
A decent subject, and the other possible alternative to Research-based Physiology as a requirement for the Physiology major. The effort put into it is also quite visible, with numerous opportunities for your feedback to the staff. Though it has a quota of 300 students during my study, the quota has now been reduced to 240 students, but I'm sure it's nothing LeviLamp can't handle, I got in with a H2B average.
The exam might be tough but not entirely overwhelming. 3 sections: A, B, and C. As you may have guessed, these are MCQs, short answers, and long answers respectively. The MCQs are doable and isn't anything you can't handle. There is a bit of section B questions based on the pracs, so you'll need to go over them. Parts of sections B & C however, give you the option to choose your questions from a list, so you could work that to your advantage. Just be prepared to splurge everything you have on your chosen questions as they could be of a high value. Knowledge of the research focus lectures (if the questions concern them) are also useful here, as are examples from the lectures. You may want to go for a high value question with a load of content instead of one where there is little, so you could be prepared to regurgitate everything you know and hope you got a wide range of them on paper.
Lectopia Enabled
Yes, with screen capture.
Laura Jean Parry, Tim Jessop, Andrew & Angelina, Mark & Kath, Kearney & Frankenberg (can't remember the full names of the rest)

Throughout the subject you'll be given numerous lectures that may also complement knowledge in the pracs, but are also an important component of the exam. Aside from the content you're expected to know, there are also prac report lectures that give you a heads up on what you're expected to do for any reports you have. There are also research focus lectures that, while they may not be a key part of the exam (although they could be included in short answer sections), you should keep them in mind.

The contents of the lectures aren't overly hard and I've heard some people say that some stuff is pretty similar (if not identical) to that of Human Physiology; I'll have to find that out for next semester. You might need a book to clarify your understanding on sequence-based processes. Stuff other than that isn't overly hard, easy enough to breeze through with effort.
Past Exams Available
Yes, a fair few, although the formats aren't exactly the same as a lot has changed.

Throughout the semester you're expected to attend to a total of 5 (maybe 6 w/ the new one) 3 hour pracs usually once every two weeks. These labs (except one, a CAL) take place in the Zoology lab and you are expected to own your own lab coat. You'll be doing stuff like injecting toads with vasotocin, placing mice in a chamber to measure their metabolic rate (less fun than it sounds), cut open fish, etc. Some of the pracs are quite dull, especially when you're stuck for 3 hours, but bearable.

After each prac until week 7, you are expected to write reports/answer task sheets worth a total of 15% (split 2.5 + 5 + 7.5 for the first 3 pracs). The initial reports are rather simplified, but you should get your report writing skills right so you don't slip up on points, it's easy to; I lost 4% from this section. All of these is a warm up for a later report due after the break which is worth 20%! If you want a H1, do not screw this one up in particular. Read the avaliable guides well and learn the appropriate use of figures & graphs, explaining and displaying results, discussion, conclusion, and incorporating material from other literature. Those are the general guides to a good report. Try to hand them in on time. A paper less than 24 hours late won't earn deductions, but won't get any useful feedback.
3.75 - 4 Out of 5
Textbook Recommendation
Hill, Wyse & Anderson, Animal Physiology, 3rd Ed, Sinauer Associates Inc. 2012, Moyes and Schulte, Principles of Animal Physiology, 2nd Ed. Pearson Press 2007. These two are quite useful for citations (especially with citing the different articles the figures/graphs in the book), but you can also do without them, just need more skills in citations.
30 x one hour lectures during the semester; 4 x three hour practical classes and 2 x three hour workshops during the semester
Year & Semester Of Completion
Sem 2, 2013
Your Mark / Grade

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