Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division, College Credit Plus
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
Animal Nutrition, Animal Nutrition and the Digestive System, Digestive System, OSC0032
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Downloadable docs, Text/HTML

Education Standards (3)

Animal Nutrition and the Digestive System Resources


All living organisms need nutrients to survive. While plants can obtain the molecules required for cellular function through the process of photosynthesis, most animals obtain their nutrients by the consumption of other organisms. At the cellular level, the biological molecules necessary for animal function are amino acids, lipid molecules, nucleotides, and simple sugars. However, the food consumed consists of protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates. Animals must convert these macromolecules into the simple molecules required for maintaining cellular functions, such as assembling new molecules, cells, and tissues. The conversion of the food consumed to the nutrients required is a multistep process involving digestion and absorption. This module will explore these ideas as well as the components of various digestive systems found in the animal kingdom.

Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives (Biology II TAGs)

  • Digestive Systems: II.7
  • Nutrition and Energy Production: II.7
  • Digestive System Processes: II.7
  • Digestive System Regulation: II.7 and 8, V.1

II.7: Compare the structure of nutrient procurement and processing systems in plants and animals.

II.8: Describe the structure and function of the nervous system, the musculoskeletal system, the respiratory system, and the mechanisms of internal transport and regulation in various organisms.

V.1: Explain how regulatory mechanisms at the level of the whole organism ensure balance in living systems that interact continuously with their environments; compare regulatory mechanisms within and across species.

Recommended Textbook Resources

Chapter 34: Animal Nutrition and the Digestive SystemBiology 2e

OpenStax: Biology 2e 

Animals obtain their nutrition from the consumption of other organisms. The nutrients and macromolecules present in food are not immediately accessible to the cells. There are several processes that modify food within the animal body to make the nutrients and organic molecules accessible for cellular function. As animals evolved in complexity of form and function, their digestive systems have also evolved to accommodate their various dietary needs. This resource was chosen because of its comprehensive discourse on the animal digestive system.

Student Assessment Activities

Student Assessment Activities are below; instructors can also Download the Animal Nutrition and the Digestive System Student Activities Word File or View the Animal Nutrition and the Digestive System Student Activity Google Doc.

Project 1:

Complete the end of the chapter “Review Questions”.  Make sure to answer each question thoroughly and include page numbers from the text where the answers can be found.  Be prepared to discuss your answers in a group setting during class.

Project 2:

Complete the end of the chapter “Critical Thinking Questions” according to your group number.  You will be sharing your responses with members from the other groups during class.  (This is a modified “Jigsaw” method.  To use this “Jigsaw” have everyone meet in their groups for a specified amount of time.  While they are discussing their responses/ideas separate everyone into new groups so that each new group has a representative from the original group.  Have the new groups meet for a specified amount of time to share their responses/ideas.  This way each person holds a piece of the overall puzzle.)
Group 1: 20-23
Group 2: 24-27
Group 3: 28-31
Group 4: 32-36

Project 3:

Divide the class into small groups.  Have each group create a diagram that describes how the human body would digest, absorb, and eliminate a hamburger.  Their diagram should be both visual and descriptive.  It should also address the various nutrients present in a hamburger.  They can share their diagram in class, through their school’s LMS, or through Google Docs.  (They could take a picture or scan the diagram to convert it to digital form.)

Project 4:

Create a table that compares the invertebrate incomplete, invertebrate complete, monogastric, avian, and ruminant digestive systems.  Then answer the following questions…
What are the evolutionary benefits of each system?
How do the various systems fit the needs of the organisms that have them?
Explain the role of bacteria in animal digestion?
Would you consider the relationship between the intestinal flora and the host animal to be symbiotic?  What type?  Why?

Project 5:

Create a research paper over four diseases of the digestive system.  In your report, make sure to address the cause, symptoms, and treatments of each disease.  You can choose diseases from any animal.