Importance of Water in Animal Life

••• Wavetop/iStock/GettyImages

Animal life requires a steady supply of water to fulfill its vital functions. From transportation to lubrication to temperature regulation, water keeps animal life functioning; in fact, the bodies of animals consist mostly of water. All chemical reactions in the bodies of animals use water as a medium.

Temperature Regulation

Animals' body temperature should remain in a narrow, specific range. Water acts as a buffer against overheating due to water's high specific heat. Specific heat determines how much heat an object can absorb without increasing its own temperature. Water has a high specific heat because its hydrogen-oxygen bonds dissolve only when exposed to intense heat. Heated water seeps out through pores in the form of sweat and must be replenished to avoid dehydration.

pH Regulation

The acidity or basicity of compounds in the body, or pH, determines whether acids or alkalines take prominence. Acids and bases have an electrical charge and therefore seek the opposite material to form a chemical bond and neutralize their net charge. For example, bone matter consists of calcium and at least 18 other critical compounds. In the absence of alkalines, excess acid will draw minerals from these sources. Water, when introduced into an animal's system, will bring its pH closer to a neutral value and lessen the chance of unhealthy chemical reactions.

Hydrolysis and Energy Production

Hydrolysis causes the breakdown of ATP, the molecule that forms when sugar metabolizes in the digestive tract and transfers to all cells. The introduction of water--two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom--to a molecule of ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, pulls one phosphate atom away from the molecule, forming adenosine diphosphate. The breaking of this bond releases energy that powers the body.

Digestion

Water forms the majority of the mucus lining that protects animal stomachs from the corrosive action of acid. Water passes directly into the intestine and the stomach without the need for digestion. It activates the sodium bicarbonate layer in the mucous membrane of the stomach, protecting it against hydrochloric acid. In addition, saliva, the fluid used to break down food in the mouth, consists mostly of water.

Joint Lubrication

In any animal skeleton, a protective layer of cartilage rests between bones to provide lubrication and prevent wear on the ends of the bone. Articular cartilage, the cartilage that exists in joints, consists of mostly water as well as a matrix of collagens and non-collagenous proteins. Without adequate water, cartilage wears down and restricts the range of motion in a joint.

Related Articles

Why Is Water Important for Living Organisms?
Important Buffers in Living Systems
Sodium Bicarbonate Secretion in the Body
What Is the Primary Function of the Gallbladder?
How Can a Biological System Be Affected by a Change...
Physical & Chemical Properties of Lipids
What Is Osmotic Lysis?
What Hormone is Responsible for Restoring Homeostasis?
How Is Urea Made?
What Are the Functions of the Cecum?
Where Does Hyaluronic Acid Come From?
Most Corrosive Acids & Bases Known to Mankind
How Does the Excretory System Respond to Physical Activity?
The Effects on Cells Because of Changes in pH of Body...
Commercial Uses of Sodium Polyacrylate
Different Ways to Raise the pH of Drinking Water
Hormones That Regulate Calcium & Phosphate Homeostasis
How to Make an EDTA Solution
What is Transferred Between a Conjugate Acid Base Pair?
Molecular Activity of Water Vs. Oil

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!