Coffee Buzz: How Does Caffeine Affect the Physiology of Animals? *

Areas of Science Zoology
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Drosophila, daphnia, and other small invertebrate animals can be ordered from online vendors.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


Caffeine is a type of chemical called a stimulant. When you drink a caffeinated beverage, the caffeine enters into your blood stream dilating the capillaries and causing blood to flow more quickly. This gives your body a feeling of speeding up which can cause the jitters and wakefulness. How does caffeine affect the physiology of other animals? You can use over-the-counter caffeine supplements, like Vivarin, to test the effects of caffeine on animals. Try dissolving the caffeine in aquarium water to test the effect of caffeine on aquatic animals like goldfish, worms, water fleas snail, or copepods. You can measure the respiration of a goldfish by counting gill movements. You can also watch the beating of the heart in daphnia, or the water flea, to measure the effect of caffeine on heart-rate. To test the effect of caffeine on terrestrial animals, you can grind up caffeine tablets and add to food. Try adding ground up caffeine tablets to Drosophila growth medium to measure the effect of caffeine on fly activity levels. Similar experiments can be done with meal worms or ants. Can you measure a dose response curve for the effects of caffeine on animal physiology? Can you conduct a similar experiment to examine the effect of nicotine using an over-the-counter smoking remedy? Hint: Start with caffeine or drug dosages that are equivalent to those given to a human, but correct for the difference in weight between a human and the test animal. For example, if a human who weighs 100 pounds gets 1 gram, then a test animal who weighs 1 pound should only be given 0.01 grams.

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Science Buddies Staff. "Coffee Buzz: How Does Caffeine Affect the Physiology of Animals?" Science Buddies, 28 July 2017, Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.

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Science Buddies Staff. (2017, July 28). Coffee Buzz: How Does Caffeine Affect the Physiology of Animals? Retrieved from

Last edit date: 2017-07-28

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