Animal physiology is the study of how animals work, and investigates the biological processes that occur for animal life to exist. These processes can be studied at various levels of organization from membranes through to organelles, cells, organs, organ systems, and to the whole animal. Animal physiology examines how biological processes function, how they operate under various environmental conditions, and how these processes are regulated and integrated. The study of animal physiology is closely linked with anatomy (i.e., the relationship of function with structure) and with the basic physical and chemical laws that constrain living as well as nonliving systems. Although all animals must function within basic physical and chemical constraints, there is a diversity of mechanisms and processes by which different animals work. A comparative approach to animal physiology highlights underlying principles, and reveals diverse solutions to various environmental challenges. It can reveal similar solutions to a common problem, or modifications of a particular physiological system to function under diverse conditions. The discipline of animal physiology is diverse and here the major areas of research and investigation are outlined.
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