Thermoregulation in Animals
- LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 23 May 2012
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0007
- LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 23 May 2012
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0007
Thermoregulation includes all phenomena in which an organism maintains a mean or variance of body temperature that deviates from a null expectation, defined by random use of thermal microclimates and passive exchange of heat with the environment. Early studies of thermoregulation focused on certain taxa that exhibit striking physiological or behavioral strategies, such as endothermic vertebrates and desert lizards. Subsequent research has shown that most organisms thermoregulate to some degree, although thermoregulatory strategies vary greatly among taxa. In the late 1970s and the 1980s, researchers not only continued to study patterns and mechanisms of thermoregulation, they also began to study the evolutionary factors that influence capacities for and strategies of thermoregulation. This period coincided with the appearance of a new discipline, evolutionary physiology, which was a natural outgrowth of ecological physiology (or physiological ecology). From this period to the present day, studies of thermoregulation have driven much of the conceptual development within ecological and evolutionary physiology, thereby strengthening our general understanding of regulatory behavior.
To understand the development of concepts and ideas within the field, one should consult several syntheses of knowledge about temperature and thermoregulation. Cossins and Bowler 1987, focusing on mechanisms of thermoregulation, was the first general synthesis of the field. McNab 2002 contains a more recent review of patterns and mechanisms of thermoregulation in vertebrates. Angilletta 2009 provides greater emphasis on the evolution of thermoregulation. Other books and articles provide excellent reviews of thermoregulation in specific taxa, including reptiles (Huey 1982), amphibians (Hutchison and Dupré 1992), crustaceans (Lagerspetz and Vainio 2006), insects (Chown and Nicolson 2004), and mammals and birds (Clarke and Rothery 2008). In addition, the Journal of Thermal Biology routinely publishes papers about thermoregulation.
Angilletta, Michael J. 2009. Thermal adaptation: A theoretical and empirical synthesis. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
Chapter 4 reviews ecological and evolutionary aspects of thermoregulation; other chapters cover specialized topics such as the coevolution of thermoregulation and thermal sensitivity, the use of game theory to understand thermoregulatory behavior, and the impacts of climate change on thermoregulatory strategies.
Chown, Steven L., and Sue W. Nicolson. 2004. Insect physiological ecology: Mechanisms and patterns. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
Chapter 6 provides a comprehensive summary of the mechanisms and patterns of thermoregulation among insects.
Clarke, Andrew, and Peter Rothery. 2008. Scaling of body temperature in mammals and birds. Functional Ecology 22.1: 58–67.
Analyzes patterns of body temperatures in the context of physiological and ecological factors.
Cossins, Andrew R., and K. Bowler. 1987. Temperature biology of animals. New York: Chapman and Hall.
Chapters 3 and 4 cover thermoregulation by ectotherms and endotherms, respectively.
Huey, Raymond B. 1982. Temperature, physiology, and the ecology of reptiles. In Biology of the reptilia. Vol. 12, Physiology C: Physiological ecology. Edited by Carl Gans and F. Harvey Pough, 25–91. New York: Academic Press.
Although this chapter focuses on reptiles, and often lizards, the concepts that Huey discusses have been generalized to many other ectotherms. This chapter lays out many interesting questions and hypotheses and is still a worthwhile read decades after its publication.
Hutchison, Victor H., and R. Keith Dupré. 1992. Thermoregulation. In Environmental physiology of the amphibians. Edited by Martin E. Feder and Warren W. Burggren, 206–249. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
Contains a very comprehensive review of preferred temperatures and thermoregulatory mechanisms; also discusses technical issues related to studies of thermoregulation in the lab and the field.
Publishes original articles in all areas of thermal biology, including thermoregulation. Full articles are available online.
Lagerspetz, Kari Y. H., and Liisa A. Vainio. 2006. Thermal behaviour of crustaceans. Biological Reviews 81.2: 237–258.
Not only summarizes preferred temperatures but also describes thermal tolerances and thermal effects on behavior.
McNab, Brian Keith. 2002. Physiological ecology of vertebrates: A view from energetics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.
Chapters 4 and 5 provide general reviews of thermoregulatory patterns in ectotherms and endotherms, respectively.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Accounting for Ecological Capital
- Allocation of Reproductive Resources in Plants
- Animals, Functional Morphology of
- Animals, Reproductive Allocation in
- Animals, Thermoregulation in
- Antarctic Environments and Ecology
- Applied Ecology
- Aquatic Conservation
- Aquatic Nutrient Cycling
- Archaea, Ecology of
- Assembly Models
- Bacterial Diversity in Freshwater
- Benthic Ecology
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
- Biodiversity Patterns in Agricultural Systms
- Biological Chaos and Complex Dynamics
- Biome, Alpine
- Biome, Boreal
- Biome, Desert
- Biome, Grassland
- Biome, Savanna
- Biome, Tundra
- Biomes, African
- Biomes, East Asian
- Biomes, Mountain
- Biomes, North American
- Biomes, South Asian
- Bryophyte Ecology
- Butterfly Ecology
- Carson, Rachel
- Chemical Ecology
- Classification Analysis
- Coastal Dune Habitats
- Communities and Ecosystems, Indirect Effects in
- Communities, Top-Down and Bottom-Up Regulation of
- Community Concept, The
- Community Ecology
- Community Genetics
- Community Phenology
- Competition and Coexistence in Animal Communities
- Competition in Plant Communities
- Complexity Theory
- Conservation Biology
- Conservation Genetics
- Coral Reefs
- Darwin, Charles
- De-Glaciation, Ecology of
- Disease Ecology
- Drought as a Disturbance in Forests
- Early Explorers, The
- Earth’s Climate, The
- Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics
- Ecological Dynamics in Fragmented Landscapes
- Ecological Informatics
- Ecology, Microbial (Community)
- Ecosystem Engineers
- Ecosystem Multifunctionality
- Ecosystem Services
- Ecosystem Services, Conservation of
- Elton, Charles
- Endophytes, Fungal
- Energy Flow
- Environments, Extreme
- Ethics, Ecological
- Facilitation and the Organization of Communities
- Fern and Lycophyte Ecology
- Fire Ecology
- Food Webs
- Foraging Behavior, Implications of
- Foraging, Optimal
- Forests, Temperate Coniferous
- Forests, Temperate Deciduous
- Freshwater Invertebrate Ecology
- Genetic Considerations in Plant Ecological Restoration
- Genomics, Ecological
- Geographic Range
- Gleason, Henry
- Greig-Smith, Peter
- Gymnosperm Ecology
- Habitat Selection
- Harper, John L.
- Heavy Metal Tolerance
- Himalaya, Ecology of the
- Host-Parasitoid Interactions
- Human Ecology
- Human Ecology of the Andes
- Hutchinson, G. Evelyn
- Insect Ecology, Terrestrial
- Introductory Sources
- Invasive Species
- Island Biogeography Theory
- Island Biology
- Kin Selection
- Landscape Dynamics
- Landscape Ecology
- Laws, Ecological
- Legume-Rhizobium Symbiosis, The
- Leopold, Aldo
- Lichen Ecology
- Life History
- Literature, Ecology and
- MacArthur, Robert H.
- Mangrove Zone Ecology
- Marine Fisheries Management
- Mathematical Ecology
- Mating Systems
- Maximum Sustainable Yield
- Metabolic Scaling Theory
- Metacommunity Dynamics
- Metapopulations and Spatial Population Processes
- Mutualisms and Symbioses
- Mycorrhizal Ecology
- Natural History Tradition, The
- Networks, Ecological
- Niche Versus Neutral Models of Community Organization
- Nutrient Foraging in Plants
- Old Fields
- Ordination Analysis
- Organic Agriculture, Ecology of
- Parental Care, Evolution of
- Patch Dynamics
- Phenotypic Selection
- Philosophy, Ecological
- Phylogenetics and Comparative Methods
- Physiological Ecology of Nutrient Acquisition in Animals
- Physiological Ecology of Photosynthesis
- Physiological Ecology of Water Balance in Terrestrial Anim...
- Plant Disease Epidemiology
- Plant Ecological Responses to Extreme Climatic Events
- Polar Regions
- Pollination Ecology
- Population Dynamics, Density-Dependence and Single-Species
- Population Dynamics, Methods in
- Population Fluctuations and Cycles
- Population Genetics
- Population Viability Analysis
- Populations and Communities, Dynamics of Age- and Stage-St...
- Predation and Community Organization
- Predator-Prey Interactions
- Reductionism Versus Holism
- Religion and Ecology
- Remote Sensing
- Restoration Ecology
- Ricketts, Edward Flanders Robb
- Seed Ecology
- Serpentine Soils
- Shelford, Victor
- Simulation Modeling
- Soil Biogeochemistry
- Soil Ecology
- Spatial Pattern Analysis
- Spatial Patterns of Species Biodiversity in Terrestrial En...
- Species Extinctions
- Species Responses to Climate Change
- Species-Area Relationships
- Stability and Ecosystem Resilience, A Below-Ground Perspec...
- Stoichiometry, Ecological
- Stream Ecology
- Systems Ecology
- Tansley, Sir Arthur
- Terrestrial Resource Limitation
- Thermal Ecology of Animals
- Tragedy of the Commons
- Trophic Levels
- Vegetation Classification
- Vegetation Mapping
- Weed Ecology
- Whittaker, Robert H.
- Wildlife Ecology