Adaptations of vertebrates to gas exchange on land

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  • Adaptations of vertebrates to gas exchange on land
    • Terrestrial vertebrates are large animals and therefore the surface of their skin is insufficient to act as a gas exchange surface
      • The gas exchange medium is air and they have evolved internal lungs for gas exchange. These provide a large surface are and reduce water loss as they are inside the body cavity
    • Amphibians
      • e.g. Frogs, Toads and Newts
        • Typically live in moist environments as they require water for fertilisation
          • The larvae live in the water and have gills
            • The transition from larvae to adult frog involves changes in the body form (metamorphosis)
      • When inactive, the adult frog can use the moist skin as a respiratory surface and it provides enough oxygen to satisfy it's needs
      • When active, the adult frog uses lungs as it's respiratory surface. Frogs also use the buccal cavity as a gas exchange surface
    • Reptiles
      • e.g. Crocodiles, Snakes and Lizards
        • Their lungs have a more complex internal structure than that of amphibians with ribs assisting in ventilation of the lungs
          • In-growth of tissue increases the surface area for gas exchange
    • Birds
      • The lungs of birds have an internal structure similar to that of mammals
        • However, large volumes of oxygen are needed to provide the energy for flight
          • Ventilation of the lungs in birds is far more efficient  than in other vertebrates and is assisted by a system of air sacs
            • Although no gas exchange takes place in the air sacs, their arrangement increases the efficiency of lung ventilation by acting as bellows
              • Ventilation is also assisted by the movement of the ribs
                • Birds are warm blooded, so require a high rate of metabolism to maintain body temperature


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