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Chapter 7: Respiration

7.2 The Respiratory Structures and Breathing Mechanisms in Humans & Animals

Adaptations of respiratory structures

1. Characteristics:
a) Moist
b) Thin
c) Large surface area
2. Larger organisms require specialized respiratory structures because:-
a) TSA/V is small.

The respiratory structure and breathing mechanism of amoeba sp.

1. Plasma membrane is the respiratory structure.

2. Large total surface area/volume.
3. Oxygen and carbon dioxide diffuse directly through the plasma membrane.
4. Aquatic habitat ensures the plasma membrane is constantly moist.


The respiratory structure and breathing mechanism of insects

1. Tracheal system is composed of air tubes called tracheae.

2. Air enters the tracheae through spiracles.
3. Tracheae is reinforced with chitin to prevent it from collapsing.
4. Tracheae branches into tracheoles.
5. Large number of tracheoles provides a large surface area.
6. The tips of the tracheoles have thin, permeable walls and contain fluid in which
respiratory gases can dissolve.
7. Grasshoppers have air sacs in their tracheal system which speed up the movement of
8. Air is drawn into and out of the tracheae by the rhythmic movements of the abdominal
9. When the insect inhales, the abdominal muscles relax and the spiracles are open. Air
pressure inside the tracheae is lowered so that air is drawn in.


The respiratory structure and breathing mechanism of fish

1. Gills are the respiratory structure of fish.

2. Gills are protected by the operculum.
3. Gills are composed of filaments (large surface area) which are supported by gill arch.
4. The filaments have numerous thin walled lamellae and rich supply of blood
5. The efficiency of gaseous exchange is enhanced by countercurrent exchange
mechanism (water (oxygen) and blood (deoxygenated) flow in the opposite direction
through the capillaries in the lamellae.
6. Breathing mechanism is aided by ventilation, combined action of mouth and

Ventilation Deventilation
Mouth open
Buccal cavity pressure lowered
Operculum closed
Water moves in

The respiratory structure and breathing mechanism of amphibians

(Figure 7.8)

1. Skin and lungs.

2. When on land or in water, frogs breathe to a large extent through the skin.
3. The skin of frogs is thin and highly permeable to respiratory gases.
4. It is kept moist by the secretion of mucus by glands found on the surface of the body.
5. These characteristics facilitate rapid and efficient exchange of gases between the skin
and the environment.
6. Beneath the skin, there is a large number of blood capillaries to receive oxygen and
transport it to body cells.
7. The lungs of frogs consist of a pair of thin walled sacs connected to the mouth through
an opening called glottis.
8. The membranes of the lungs are thin, moist and covered by a network of capillaries.
9. As a frog breathes through its nostrils, the bucco-pharyngeal floor is lowered and the
glottis closes.
10. Air is drawn into the bucco-pharyngeal cavity. The nostrils are then closed while the
glottis opens.
11. As the buco-pharyngeal floor is raised, the increased air pressure forces air into the
12. The lungs expand when air pushes into them.
13. When the lung muscle contracts, air is expelled from the lungs.
14. Some air escapes through the nostrils while the rest mixes with the air in the bucco-
pharyngeal cavity.
15. The bucco-pharyngeal floor has strong muscular walls, and is always moving
upwards and downwards to inhale and exhale air through the nostrils.

The respiratory structure and breathing mechanism of humans.

(Figure 7.9)
1. Gaseous exchange in humans takes place in the lungs which are located in the thoracic
cavity and protected by a rib cage.
2. Air enters the lungs through trachea.
3. The trachea is supported by C-shaped rings of cartilage which keep the trachea open
permanently to receive air.
4. The lower end of the trachea divides into two primary tubes called bronchi which enter
the right and left lungs.
5. The bronchus branches repeatedly into smaller tubes called bronchioles.
6. Each bronchioles ends ends in a cluster of alveoli.
7. Alveoli provide a huge combined surface area for gaseous exchange.
8. The inner surface of each alveolus is lined with layer of moist epithelial cells.
9. The outer surface is covered by a dense network of blood capillaries which provides a
large surface area for rapid diffusion of gases to and from the alveoli.
10. Bothe the wall of an alveolus and the capillary walls are one cell thick.
11. The breathing mechanisms involves the combined action of the intercostal muscles
and diaphragm.
12. There are two sets of intercostal muscles (internal and external) found between the
13. The diaphragm is a dome shaped sheet of muscle whih forms the bottom wall of the
thoracic cavity.
14. Breathing involves the alternate processes of inhalation and exhalation.

(Figure 7.11)

Structures Inhalation (air moves in) Exhalation

Intercostal muscle
External Contract
Internal Relax
Rib cage Move upwards and
Diaphragm Contracts and flattens
Thoracic cavity Volume increases
Alveoli Reduced air pressure