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Extreme Environment Biology


All living organisms must constantly respond to changes in the environment whilst maintaining developmental and growth processes if they are to survive into the next generation.

This module will consider how natural and man-made environmental changes in temperature, water and nutrient availability and exposure to pollutants can have a major impact on all aspects of growth and development of living organisms.

The course been designed to provide students with a deep understanding of how some microbes, plants and animals have adapted to cope with extreme environmental factors. With this knowledge it is anticipated that you will be able to assess critically how organisms, in both farmed and natural landscapes, can adapt to our changing environment. The module will also increase your knowledge about the impact that the environment has played and continues to play on plant, animal and microbial ecosystems.


On completion of this module participants will be able to:

  • Discuss critically the role of extremes of environment on growth and development.
  • Design experiments to test the influence of environmental factors on growth and development.
  • Identify strategies and adaptations with particular environmental stresses.
  • Critically discuss current views of climate change on plant, animal and microbial performance.



  • Introduction to organisms and their environments.
  • How to survive in extreme temperatures.
  • How to live in a water-limited environment.
  • Living under extreme atmospheric conditions.
  • Pollutants - how to survive in a toxic environment.
  • How extreme environment drives evolution.