The palaeophysiology of organisms has undoubtedly affected their ability to colonize and exploit past geological environments; it may also have influenced, through the metabolic by-products produced, the nature of past environments themselves. The importance of physiological evolution for environmental change, and of environmental change for physiological evolution makes it at least as relevant as the study of morphological evolution in understanding the relationship between biological and physical processes in the evolution of the Earth. In this context the relations between bacterial metabolism and Precambrian environments, between plant physiology and atmospheric composition, between metazoan anaerobic metabolism and environmental conditions, and between osmoregulation and salinity changes, are all briefly considered and assessed.

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