Thermoregulation is defined as the ability of an organism to modify its body temperature. This module emphasizes animal thermoregulation from an ecological point of view and develops the concept of the operative environmental temperature, a technique which integrates the effects of all heat transfer processes into one number. Historical developments in the study of animal thermoregulation are reviewed and an attempt is made to illustrate how a quantitative knowledge of heat transfer processes can be used to clarify the adaptive significance of animal morphology, behavior, and physiology. A problem set illustrates and extends ideas developed in the text.
The biological aspects of thermoregulation are investigated in this module by illustrating the limitations of purely physical models of heat balance. The importance of certain behavioral physiological and morphological traits is stressed throughout the discussions. The concept of operative environmental temperature is presented and discussed as a means of incorporating the relative influences of all heat transfer processes into one number.