The Effects of Maintaining a High Constant Body Temperature in Mammals Essay

The Effects of Maintaining a High Constant Body Temperature in Mammals Essay

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The Effects of Maintaining a High Constant Body Temperature in Mammals


Endothermic organisms maintain a stable core body temperature through
their own adapted physiological mechanisms and appropriate changes in
its behavioural patterns. The ability of an endotherm to keep its
internal environment at a constant temperature allows the enzymes
catalysing the vital biochemical reactions to be close to their
optimum temperature, giving an efficient metabolic rate. The metabolic
rate is defined as the rate at which all the cells in the body carry
out their biochemical reactions. This constant high metabolic rate
allows the endotherm to produce rapid movement in colder regions. For
example the ability for the body to respire quickly when faced with
the fight or flee situation, under the influence of the hormone
adrenaline.

This high metabolic rate aids in the maintenance of the high core
temperature, however as most of the heat is generated as a by-product
of respiration large therefore vast quantities of food must be
consumed.

µ Herbivores consume plants, which are relatively low in energy and
must therefore devote a large portion of their day to eating if they
are to maintain this high metabolic rate and internal environment

µ Carnivores consume food which contain much higher levels of energy
and as a result they eat less often

In the short term, a change in temperature is detected by the
temperature receptors situated in the hypodermis layer of the skin.
These transfer a signal to the hypothalamus in the brain, which uses
negative feedback to rectify the change.

Initially the hypothalamus triggers the higher centres of...


... middle of paper ...


...the ground may reach
as cold as 0oC, at this temperature the biochemical reactions
occurring in the body of the lizard would be so slow it would run the
risk of dying. As a result the lizard must find a warmer location so
spend the night, usually it has a burrow it can retreat to when it
gets too cold. The burrow will usually remain at a constant
temperature of approximately 20oC; conditions the lizard will be able
to survive.

Lizards will also adjust their body position so when heat needs to be
absorbed from the surroundings it is done in the most efficient way,
by placing themselves at right angles to the direction of the rays.

Despite these behavioural adaptations most endotherms are ill suited
to living in colder climates, as there is insufficient energy
available to maintain a suitably high metabolic rate.

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