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Temperature regulation
Most organisms are active in a limited temperature range
Most organisms are active within a limited temperature range, despite the large uctuations in temperature that occur in the outside environment. Organisms that live in environments where they may be subjected to extremes of temperature have adaptations that enable them to keep their internal temperature within a relatively narrow range. Organisms must also maintain a relatively constant balance of chemicals within their bodies if they are to remain functionally active. One of the main reasons why the maintenance of a constant temperature and chemical balance is so important is to ensure efcient metabolism maintaining optimum conditions for the functioning of enzymes, the organic catalysts that control all chemical reactions in cells. Metabolism is the sum total of all chemical reactions occurring within a living organism. Each step of a metabolic pathway in cells is catalysed by enzymes. Metabolism is divided into two: anabolic and catabolic. Those reactions that involve building up large organic compounds from simpler molecules are termed anabolic reactions, for example a large polysaccharide molecule such as starch being made from small monosaccharide units such as glucose, a product of photosynthesis in plants. (You may have heard the term anabolic used to describe steroids. Discuss the meaning of the term in this context.) Chemical reactions that involve breaking down complex organic compounds to simpler ones are termed catabolic reactions. For example, in the digestion of food, large food molecules such as proteins are broken down into small units called amino acids, which can then be easily absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream. Chemical reactions may be classied according to whether they use up or release energy. Anabolic reactions are usually endergonic reactions, requiring an energy input. Catabolic reactions usually give out energy and so they are exergonic reactions.

Enzymes function under balanced conditions

All metabolic reactions in living cells are controlled by enzymes. Enzymes are protein molecules, present in cells, which act as biological catalysts, controlling the rate of each step of the complex chemical reactions that take place in cells. Catalysts are chemical substances that can accelerate (speed up) chemical reactions, but they remain unchanged at the end of the reaction and can be reused. They function very rapidly at low temperatures, making them ideal for cell functioning.


Additional information and websites anabolic steroids


Enzymes and metabolism

identify the role of enzymes in metabolism metabolism, describe their chemical composition and use a simple model to describe their specicity on substrates
altered if the enzyme is to function (see Fig. 1.1).

Enzymeco-enzyme substrate complex

By understanding the chemical composition, functions and characteristics of enzymes, we can better understand their role in controlling chemical reactions in cells and therefore metabolism in living organisms.

The chemical composition of enzymes

Enzymes are protein molecules and are made by living cells. They are globular proteins, meaning that they have long chains or sequences of amino acids that have been folded into a specic shape. Their effective functioning relies on their shape. The molecule on which an enzyme acts is called a substrate. An enzyme ts together with its substrate molecules at a precise place on the surface of the much larger enzyme molecule, called the active site (much like a key ts a particular lock). The shape of this active site must not be

Some enzymes have a non-protein group such as a vitamin (e.g. riboavin = B2, pantothenic acid = B5) or a metal ion (e.g. zinc, copper or iron) that binds with the protein part and helps to form the active site. This is termed a co-enzyme or cofactorit can be easily separated from the protein part of the enzyme, but its presence is essential for the enzyme reaction to occur because the enzyme cannot function without the cofactor. A functional enzyme may therefore consist of protein only, or it may be in the form of an enzymecofactor complex (where the enzyme part of the complex is a protein). Poisons are substances that have harmful effects on living organisms. Some poisons exert their toxic effect by disabling cofactors and thereby inhibiting enzyme
enzyme made of protein

Figure 1.1 The chemical structure of the enzyme lysozyme (a) represented in ribbon style; (b) represented as a three-dimensional model; (c) showing the formation of an enzymesubstrate complex groove of active site fits shape of substrate

active site substrate active site






functioning. The heavy metals mercury and cadmium replace zinc cofactors in some enzymes and inhibit their functioning.

Teaching strategy enzymes reduce activation energy

The role of enzymes in metabolism

The following functions of enzymes lead to their effective role in metabolism:
Acceleration of chemical reactions

oxygen and glucose may be chemically combined to release energy. In the laboratory, we can activate this reaction by adding heatwe burn the glucose and cause it to react with oxygen in the air to release energy as light and heat. In the human body, we cannot add heat to glucose and oxygen to initiate a reaction and so an enzyme is necessary to lower the required activation energy, so that glucose can react with oxygen to release energy. (See Fig. 1.2.)
Action on specic substrates

Enzyme catalysts are able to speed up (or slow down) reactions without a change in temperature. This is extremely important in cells, since heat damages living tissue. For a chemical reaction to begin, activation energy is necessary (see Fig. 1.1). The role of an enzyme is to lower the activation energy needed to start a reaction, so that the reaction can proceed quickly, without a change in temperature.
Lowering of activation energy

Enzymes are therefore substratespecic, meaning that one particular enzyme can work on only one particular substrate molecule, because the active site is reciprocally shaped to bind with that molecule. The enzyme itself is not chemically changed in the reaction and so it can be reused in subsequent reactions. Enzymecontrolled reactions are always reversible.



Student worksheet enzymes

In chemical reactions that occur in the non-living world, heat could provide the necessary activation energy for a chemical reaction, but in the living world, heat burns tissue. It is important to remember that an enzyme does not provide activation energyit reduces the amount of activation energy needed (by bringing specic molecules together, rather than relying on them colliding randomly). For example,

Characteristics of enzymes
Enzymes, due to their protein nature, are sensitive to temperature (heat and excessive cold) and to pH (a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance).

Enzymes within cells function best at the body temperature of the living

(a) Figure 1.2 Scheme of activation energy required for chemical reactions: (a) without a catalyst, activation energy must be supplied for a chemical reaction; (b) catalysts accelerate specic reactions by lowering the amount of activation energy needed to initiate the reaction energy supplied

(b) uncatalysed

activation energy

catalysed activation energy

energy released






optimum temperature optimum pH for pepsin Rate of reaction Rate of reaction optimum pH for trypsin

30 (a)


50 (b)

Temperature of reaction (C)

pH of reaction Figure 1.3 (a) Graph showing the effect of temperature on the rate of enzyme action; (b) graph showing the pH-specicity of two digestive enzymes

organism in which they occur. In most living things, enzymes function normally at temperatures up to 40C; above this temperature their efciency (rate of reaction) decreases. At temperatures above 60C, most enzymes stop functioning altogether. This is because heat causes the hydrogen bonds that maintain the form of the enzyme to break and this, in turn, alters both the structure and shape of the moleculethe molecule is said to denature. Any change in shape that affects the active site will alter the functioning of the enzyme because the altered active site is no longer reciprocally shaped to the substrate molecule. Excessive cold also causes the enzyme to change shape and its functioning to slow down or stop, but the change in shape due to extreme cold is often reversible.

in an acidic or alkaline medium. For example, the protein-digesting enzymes pepsin and rennin, found in gastric juice in the stomach, function best in a strong acid. The enzyme salivary amylase, found in saliva, helps break down starch and it functions best in a weak alkaline medium. The action of amylase on starch stops when the food passes into the stomach, because of the low pH of gastric juice. Extremes of pH, like temperature, cause the enzymes to denature.

Each enzyme has its own narrow range of pH within which it functions most efciently. Levels of alkalinity or acidity outside of the optimum pH for an enzyme have a similar effect to that of temperature changethey alter the shape of the enzyme and slow down or stop its functioning. Within cells, most enzymes function at or near neutral, but enzymes in the digestive tract function

Enzyme molecules are specic, acting on only one type of substrate; therefore, each enzyme catalyses one particular chemical reaction involving the substrate for which it is specic. This is due to the lock-and-key t of the active site to the substrate molecule (described, overleaf in more detail in the section How enzymes work). Examples of enzyme specicity are: amylase acts on starch, changing it to glucose rennin acts on the protein in milk, causing it to curdle the enzyme catalase, present in most living cells (e.g. potato/meat/apple) acts on toxic hydrogen peroxide and converts it to harmless water and oxygen gas.


Teacher resource terminology related to enzymes


Figure 1.4 pH scale

What is pH?

iden identify ntify the pH as a way of describing the acidity of a substance

pH scale runs from 0 to 14, where 7 (the midpoint) represents a neutral solution. The presence of hydrogen ions in a solution makes it more acidic and so solutions with a pH below 7 are acidic and those with a pH above 7 are alkaline or basic. The further away from the neutral value of 7, the stronger the respective acid or base.
blood (pH 7.4)

pH is a w way of describing the acidity of a sub substance. The pH scale is used t to measure the acidity or alkalinity of a substance, as shown below (see Fig. 1.4). pH is a logarithmic value of the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) in solution. Since it is a logarithmic value, the greater the hydrogen ion concentration, the lower the pH. The
hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) saliva (pH 6.5)

tomato juice, acid rain

grapefruit, soft drink

lemon juice, vinegar

examples battery acid

pH 10

pH 11

pH 12

pH 13

strong acid increasing acidity

weak acid neutral

weak base increasing alkalinity pH scale

strong base



How enzymes work: models to describe enzyme specicity on substrates

Enzymes are large, globular protein molecules with one or more indentations on their surface called active sites. For an enzyme to catalyse a reaction, the small substrate molecules must temporarily bind to these active sites. At rst a lock-andkey model was proposed: it was thought that the active site is rigid and the small substrate molecule is reciprocally shaped and ts into the active site, like a lock ts a key. Once this enzymesubstrate complex has formed, the close proximity of the molecules allows the reaction to be rapidly catalysed and the products of the reaction are released. To validate this model, predictions were made and tested. The results led to the proposal of the currently accepted amended version of the model, known as the induced-t model. This model is based on the realisation that proteins are not rigid. Evidence suggests that the binding of a substrate to the active site of an enzyme induces the enzyme to alter its shape slightly, to t more tightly around the substrate. (See Fig. 1.5.)

pH 14

pH 0

pH 1

pH 2

pH 3

pH 4

pH 5

pH 6

pH 7

pH 8

pH 9

liquid drain cleaner

ammonia solution

Great Salt Lake

distilled water

baking soda

soapy water

black coffee

sea water




1 substrate is sucrose, which is composed of glucose and fructose bonded together bond 2 substrate binds to the enzyme



4 3 bond binding the substrate breaks

products are released

active sites

enzymesubstrate complex fit in lock-and-key arrangement enzyme

5 enzyme is free to bind other substrates


substrate is sucrose, which is composed of glucose and fructose bonded together 2 substrate binds to the enzyme




4 3 bond binding the substrate breaks

products are released

active sites

enzyme (b)

induced fit: the binding of the substrate induces the enzyme to change shape and fit more tightly

enzyme is free to bind other substrates

Figure 1.5 Sequence of steps in the induced-t/lock-and-key model of specicity of enzymesubstrate action: (a) lock-and-key model of enzyme functioning; (b) induced-t model of enzyme functioning

The rate of enzyme reactions

Enzymes are highly efcientthey work rapidly, having a high rate of reaction or turnover number (the number of substrate molecules that one enzyme can act on in 1 minute). Catalase is the fastest acting of all enzymes, having a turnover number of 5 million substrate molecules per minute. Enzymes are highly effective only minute traces are needed to bring about reactions and they can be reused.

The rate of an enzymecontrolled reaction is affected by the concentration of the substrate. If an enzyme and substrate have a high afnity for each other, the reaction will proceed more rapidly than for an enzyme and substrate that have a low afnity for each other. The higher the substrate concentration, the greater the rate of enzyme reaction, until all available enzymes are being used to catalyse reactions. This point is known




Student worksheet graphs related to enzyme activity

as the saturation point. Increasing the substrate concentration beyond the saturation point will not increase the rate of reaction, since all enzymes are working at their maximum turnover rate and will have to be reused to act on the additional substrate. The only way to increase the reaction rate would be to increase the enzyme concentration. (See Fig. 1.6.)

maximum Rate of reaction

Substrate concentration Figure 1.6 Graph showing the effect of substrate concentration on enzyme activity

Investigating enzyme activity

H11.1; H11.2; H11.3 H12.1; H12.2; H12.3; H12.4 H13.1 H14.1; H14.2; H14.3

identify data sources, plan, choose equipment or resources and perform a rst-hand investigation to test the effect of: increased temperature change in pH change in substrate concentrations on the activity of named enzyme(s)
In each of the investigations that follow, the activity of a named enzyme will be studied. There are a variety of enzymes that are suitable to use for this investigation. Each has its advantages and disadvantages (see Table 1.1).

Background information
Enzymes are protein molecules that are made by living cells and function as catalysts within the cells. They accelerate the rate of reaction without themselves being changed. A substrate is another name for a reactant in an enzymecontrolled reaction.

Table 1.1 Advantages and disadvantages of enzymes

Enzyme and source Catalase (potato or any fresh plant or animal tissue) Amylase (commercially available or found in saliva)

Substrate Hydrogen peroxide

Chemical reaction catalysed Hydrogen peroxide converted to water and oxygen Starch converted to glucose

Evidence of enzyme activity Creates a zzing effect

Determining enzyme activity Measure the height of bubbles Starch can be stained with iodine. Time how long until starch disappears: enzyme active no more starch present Time how long milk takes to curdlethis indicates rate of enzyme activity

Starch (available as powdered starch that can be mixed with water, or boiled potato)

Starch no longer present

Rennin (available as junket tablets)

Milk protein (caseinogen)

Converts soluble caseinogen protein into an insoluble form (casein)

Milk curdles and a precipitate forms


Students will need to plan and conduct three separate experiments so that they can investigate the effect of each factor independently. That is, in each experiment only one variable is changed to ensure the validity of the investigation. The effect of each of the following factors on enzyme activity will be investigated: increased temperatureExperiment 1 change in pHExperiment 2 change in substrate concentrations Experiment 3. There are several ways in which this can be tackled. Group work is recommended, as each experiment (especially the effect of temperature on enzyme activity) is fairly labour-intensive.

Planning the scientic investigation

Students should consult the teacher and use the information on the Student Resource CD to decide whether they will investigate the activity of the same enzyme and its substrate for all three experiments, or whether they will use a different enzyme for one or more of the experiments. To plan the investigation, a variety of sources should be consulted, including the information in the table on the previous page, the Student Resource CD and the text on pages 35 on the role of enzymes in metabolism. Teachers may like to guide the class through planning and conducting one of the three experiments on enzyme activity and then allow the students to plan and conduct the other two experiments on their own. (Teachers resource material, The ve steps of investigation, available on the Teacher Resource CD, may be useful.) For each experiment, students need to: identify the enzyme and substrate to be used discuss with the teacher the sources from which both the enzyme and the substrate that you have chosen to use can be obtained research the chemical reaction that the enzyme catalyses and write out a word equation for this reaction determine a method to measure the activity of the enzyme in a laboratory. Research and list all safety precautions to be taken and the hazards of any chemicals that may be used.

conclusions, it is necessary to use a control: remove the factor you are testing and compare the results with the experiment when the factor was present. The comparison should show that if the factor is missing (the control), the same result is not obtained, proving that it is the presence of that factor which brings about the result. Set up two sets of apparatus for each runone with the factor being tested (experimental apparatus) and one without the factor (control apparatus). Validity also depends on keeping variables constant and ensuring reliability and accuracy. Identify the independent and dependent variables and plan how you will keep all other variables constant Ensure reliability and accuracy: read the Biology Skills on pages xxii (and, in particular, take note of 12.4 e and f) to determine how you will ensure: reliability: the same method should yield the same results when repeated by other people (this may require modication and inter-group co-operation after a test run) and averaging and/or comparison of results accuracy: the results should comply with similar scientic information (e.g. data from other scientic sources such as scientic journals); accuracy also relies on choosing precise measuring equipment and using it correctly to avoid experimental error Results: choose suitable format(s) to represent your data (e.g. tables, graphs the correct type of graph and the line of best t). Additional information is available on the Teacher Resource CD.


Experiment i t report t investigating enzyme activity


Teaching strategy for the investigation and teacher resource valid investigations

Reporting on the investigation

For each experiment, write up a practical report under the standard scientic headingsaim, hypothesis, materials, safety, method, results, conclusion and discussion. Results: data from results should be measured, recorded in the form of a table and then graphed. Conclusions: read the aim of each experiment again, consider your hypothesis and then write a valid conclusion based on your results (no inferences). Discussion: any suggested modications to the method, materials or equipment and explanations of unexpected results or experimental error should appear under this heading. Answer all discussion questions as well.


Ensuring the validity of the investigation

A valid experiment is one that actually tests what it sets out to test. To arrive at valid

Sample experiments on investigating enzyme activity and practical reports



Home Homeostasis and feedback mechanisms maint maintaining a balance

Of all liv living ving organisms the mammalian has best perfected keeping body ha internal functioning constant, no matter changes occur in the external what cha conditions in the environment. The module Maintaining a balance has as its central theme the maintenance of internal stability, called homeostasis, within living organisms. In this module, we will study regulatory systems in both plants and animals that act to maintain a balance in their internal environments: temperature regulation (brought about mainly by the skin in mammals and by leaves in plants) control of chemical substances available to cells, transported through organisms (by blood vessels in mammals and vascular tissue in plants) the control of water and salt balance (osmoregulation) and of pH and waste products (brought about mainly by the kidneys in mammalian bodies). An organism is healthy as long as homeostasis is maintained. When a person visits a doctor for a medical check-up, the doctor will monitor their wellbeing by carrying out standard checks, including measuring their body temperature and taking blood samples to compare the patients blood composition with a standard set of values that indicate the normal range for optimal metabolic efciency.


describe homeostasis as the process by which organisms maintain a relatively stable internal environment
for example a power cut, could have drastic results if the organisation cannot continue to work independently of the outside changes. The uctuations need to be monitored and counter measures must be put in place. For example, if there is a power failure and a hospital does not have a back-up plan, many lives will be lost. In order to maintain a constant internal environment, the following two steps are essential: 1. detect the change 2. counteract the change. In a similar way, living organisms must have mechanisms in place to enable them to function independently of external changes and to maintain a relatively constant internal state. In this chapter, we look at homeostasis and how living organisms maintain a constant internal environment.

The word homeostasis comes from the Greek words homoios, meaning like or the same and stasis, meaning state. This implies a state of balance or constancy, where conditions stay the same in the internal environment of living organisms to allow them to function efciently, despite uctuations in the external environment. Homeostasis is dened as the maintenance by an organism of a constant or almost constant internal state, regardless of external environmental change. Any organised infrastructure, whether a living organism or a nonliving enterprise, needs careful control and certain constants if it is to run smoothly and efciently, particularly when external circumstances uctuate or change. If we consider the smooth running of a hospital or even a household, a sudden external change,



Discuss the following analogy, which should help us to understand the importance of maintaining constant internal conditions in an organisation such as: a hospital a home. In order to maintain a constant internal environment in the event of a power cut, how would people within the hospital or home: 1. detect the changehow will people become aware that the power supply has been cut off? 2. counteract the changewhat measures could be put in place within each organisation to temporarily overcome the problem until things return to normal? Compare the efciency of these measures and relate this to the importance of the functioning of the organisation.

When we consider our analogy in more detail, it becomes evident that some organisations are better equipped to cope with change than otherspart of the back-up plan in a hospital is to have its own emergency generator, which can be put into use in the event of a power failure; however, most of us do not have emergency generators in our homes. It is interesting (and not unexpected) to note that certain

living organisms have a better backup plan than others when it comes to maintaining a constant internal environment. Living organisms have developed mechanisms that ensure that they are able to maintain a constant or almost constant internal state, regardless of changes from the stable state of conditions in the external environment.

The importance of a constant internal environment

explain why the maintenance of a constant internal environment is important for optimal metabolic efciency
must be maintained within a narrow range of conditions, for example temperature, volume (the amount of cells or of uid such as blood or cytoplasm) and chemical content in the internal environment must be kept stable so that enzymes can function effectively and metabolic efciency can be maintained. Enzymes are extremely sensitive to the temperature and pH of the environment and changes in concentrations of these, as well as nutrients such as glucose and oxygen, affect their activity. Cells cannot tolerate any build-up in levels of waste products such as carbon dioxide or


Living organisms are made of cells, which must function efciently to maintain life. All chemical reactions within cells must occur efciently and be effectively co-ordinated to bring about optimal metabolic efciency. Each cell is surrounded by a small amount of uid called intercellular or interstitial uid and this, together with the cytoplasm inside cells, makes up their internal environment. Cells are extremely sensitive to changes in their internal environment and any imbalance adversely affects their functioning. The internal environment of an organism



other metabolic wastes, as these inhibit enzyme functioning. Metabolic efciency relies on a constant (or almost constant) level of the following variables in the internal environment: temperature and pH (optimal range) for enzyme functioning concentration of metabolites (reactants) water and salt concentration (osmotic pressure), which determines the volume of cells or uid such as blood) absence of toxins that may inhibit enzyme functioning.


The importance of maintaining a constant level of each variable

pH and temperature (for enzyme functioning)

All chemical reactions necessary for the cells survival and functioning are controlled by enzymes. Enzymes only function within a narrow range of temperature and pH; outside of these ranges, narrow variations cause a decrease in the activity of enzymes whereas greater variations cause the enzymes to denature, rendering them non-functional. This reduces metabolic efciency. Further problems with extreme temperatures are that: very low temperatures could cause the water in cells to freeze. This brings about changes in the concentration of solutes in the cytoplasm, which in turn affect the pH and osmotic balance of the cell. When water freezes it expands and this may cause the cell and/or organelles to rupture (burst). very high temperatures cause both enzymes and other proteins (such as those in membranes of organelles and the cell) to denature, further disrupting cell functioning and metabolic activity.

For any chemical reaction to proceed, reactants must be present. Metabolites are chemicals that participate in chemical reactions in cells. Some (for example, glucose and oxygen) are taken in from the outside environment, whereas others are products of other metabolic pathways (for example ATP, the type of energy produced by chemical respiration). Many metabolic reactions rely on the availability of ATP energy in cells. If cells cannot produce sufcient energy, there is a ripple effect and other metabolic activity will be adversely affected. The production of energy relies on chemical respiration, which in turn relies on an ample supply of metabolites such as glucose and oxygen, as well as respiratory enzymes and their cofactors. A lack of any of these metabolites may therefore slow down or stop chemical respiration, affecting overall metabolic efciency.
Water and salt concentrations (osmotic balance)

All chemical reactions in living organisms take place in water. For chemical reactions to proceed, the reactants must be dissolved in water therefore the water concentration of cells and their surrounding uid is of enormous importance. Dissolved substances such as salt affect the osmotic balance of uids and so the concentration of slats and other dissolved substances must also be maintained within a narrow range.
An absence of toxins

A build-up of carbon dioxide and/or other wastes (as a result of chemical reactions in the cells) may be toxic to cells, affecting enzymes either directly or indirectly. Some interact directly by blocking the active site of enzymes, while others act indirectly by altering the optimal conditions for enzyme




An explanation involves nding a cause and effect relationship. (Refer to the verb scaffold for explain on the Teacher Resource CD.) Analyse the above explanations of the importance of maintaining a constant internal environment in terms of each variable, and in the form of a table: state the underlying cause(s) of the phenomenon (the change to the internal environment) outline any intermediate effects state clearly the overall effect on metabolic efciency.

Verb scaffold explain

functioning (for example, carbon dioxide alters the pH of uid). In either case, enzyme functioning is inhibited

and so these wastes must be removed to ensure metabolic efciency.

Negative feedbackthe mechanism of homeostasis

explain that homeostasis consists of two stages: detecting changes from the stable state counteracting changes from the stable state
substances) in the internal environment of an organism are maintained within a narrow range. Within each organism, these variables have an ideal or normal value, called the set point. Homeostasis does not maintain the exact set point, but homeostasis is maintained as long as there is only a narrow range of uctuation (increase and decrease) of the variable around the set point. (See Figure 1.7.) If the uctuation is large and exceeds the normal range, a negative

Figure 1.7 Graph showing homeostasis as the maintenance of a relatively constant internal environment around an ideal value or set point. The value of the variable uctuates within a narrow range and is maintained by a negative feedback mechanism

Homeostasis involves an enormous amount of co-ordination and control in a living organism. In mammals, both the nervous system and endocrine (hormonal) systems are involved. Homeostasis is brought about in two stages: 1. detecting change: sensory cells or receptors present within the body detect change in the temperature and/or chemical composition within the body. This change in the environment is called a stimulus. 2. counteracting change: effector organs (such as muscles or glands) then work to reverse the change. A response that successfully reverses the change will return the body to homeostasisits relatively constant state. Homeostatic mechanisms ensure that variables (such as temperature or the concentration of chemical
Normal range

upper value that triggers a response to counteract the increase set point (ideal value)

lower value that triggers a response to counteract the decrease Time



feedback mechanism comes into operation in response to this change; it is termed negative because it counteracts the change (the stimulus), returning the body to within the normal rangei.e. to a state of homeostasis.

Note: The secondary-source investigation to model a feedback system (see page 20) may be done at this point in time OR after temperature regulation.


Temperature regulation and the nervous system Temp

outline the role of the nervous system in detecting and responding to environmental changes
The structures of the nervous system involved in the stimulusresponse pathway of co-ordination are: receptorssensory cells, sometimes in sense organs (for example, olfactory receptors in the nose) a control centrethe central nervous system, which includes brain and spinal cord effectors (e.g. muscles and glands) nerves, which link all the other parts, relaying messages from one part to another in the form of electrochemical nerve impulses.
The stimulusresponse pathway

Any change in the external environment could affect the balance in the internal environment of the organism and so a mechanism is needed to ensure homeostasisthe maintenance of a stable internal environment, despite uctuations in the external environment. The mechanisms that allow this to occur are based on a negative feedback system, co-ordinated by the nervous system.

Introduction to the nervous system


Figure 1.8 Flow chart showing the stimulus response pathway

The function of the nervous system is co-ordination and this takes place in three steps: 1. It detects information about an animals internal and external environments. 2. It transmits this information to a control centre. 3. The information is processed in the control centre, generating a response to ensure the maintenance of a relatively constant internal state.

A stimulus is detected by a receptor, a message is carried by nerves to a control centre and a response is triggered (see Fig. 1.8). For example, if you touch a hot stove with your nger, receptors in your skin detect the heat and pain, and the result is that you withdraw your nger rapidly. How is this co-ordinated? This rapid reaction requires a link between the receptors that detect the stimulus and the effectors, the muscles



control centre





(or sometimes glands) that carry out a response. The co-ordination is carried out by the nerves and the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) of the body. See Figure 1.9, which illustrates the role of the nervous system in the stimulusresponse pathway.

Co-ordination pathway


(change in environment)

Loud noise


The role of the nervous system in homeostasis

The role of the nervous system in homeostasis is co-ordination. A pathway exists, whereby a stimulus is detected by a receptor, a message is carried by nerves to a control centre and a response is triggered. In homeostasis, the response usually counteracts the stimulus (change), reducing its effect so that a balance is maintained. This is termed a negative feedback mechanism.
Detecting change: receiving stimuli
(sensory cells in sense organ)

detected by hair cells in ear


convert stimuli to impulses auditory nerve I I I + + + I I + + + I I I + +

(sensory nerve carrying nerve impulses)


transmit impulses brai n

(brain and spinal cord)


Sensory cells called receptors detect stimuli (changes in the internal or external environment of an organism). In their most simple form, receptors consist of single cells, scattered over the body of an organism. In their more complex form, receptors have become concentrated in particular areas to form sense organs such as the eye, ear and tongue. In many animals (including humans), receptors in sense organs detect stimuli in the external environment. However, there are also receptors that are sensitive to internal stimuli within the body. These interoreceptors within the body are important in detecting changes related to homeostasis that is, internal stimuli such as changes in pH, body temperature, osmotic pressure and the chemical composition of blood.

process information and trigger new impulses motor nerves

(motor nerve carrying nerve impulses)


transmit impulses

(muscles or glands)






head jerks and looks back

Figure 1.9 The role of the nervous system in detecting and responding to environmental change



Receptors may be named according to the type of energy or molecules they detect. Those receptors important in our study of homeostasis are thermoreceptors, which detect internal changes in temperature, and chemoreceptors, which detect the concentration of certain chemicals inside the body (for example, carbon dioxide levels) in the blood. Other receptors that you may come across in your studies (e.g. if you study the biology option Communication) are photoreceptors (sensitive to light, found in the eye) and mechanoreceptors (sensitive to movement or vibrations, found in the ear).
Co-ordination: the role of the nervous system in processing information

of receiving a stimulus. It is carried out by structures in the body known as effector organsthese are often muscles and/or glands. The response reaches the effectors from the CNS and causes the body to correct any deviation from the normal balanced state, thereby maintaining homeostasis.

The role of the nervous system in thermoregulation in humans

Causes of temperature change within the body

The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS). The peripheral nervous system consists of nerves, which carry information to and from the CNS. The information carried by nerves is messages transmitted in the form of electrochemical nerve impulses. Incoming information passes from sensory receptors via sensory nerves to the CNS, which in turn transmits outgoing information to effector organs via motor nerves. The role of the CNS is to process incoming information, analyse it and then initiate an appropriate response. Within the CNS, information is processed and analysed by a number of interconnecting nerve cells (neurons) and then a message is generated and transmitted, stimulating the effector organs. Some actions involving the nervous system may take place voluntarily, but all of those involved in homeostasis take place without any conscious thoughtthey are involuntary and many are inborn, unconditioned reexes in response to a particular stimulus.
Counteracting change: responding

A response is a reaction in an organism or its tissues, as a result

Heat gain within the body may arise as a result of: normal cell functioning (metabolism): the oxidation process of chemical respiration in cells releases heat energy muscle contractions: a large proportion of the energy needed for any muscle activity is converted into heat during muscle functioning (this explains why we get hot when we exercise) hot food and drinks heat (radiant energy) from external sources such as the sun, radiators and heaters. Heat loss from the body results from: radiation of heat from the body to cooler surroundings convection: air currents (wind) remove warm air surrounding the body and replace it with cool air evaporation (for example sweating): when liquid droplets on the body surface evaporate, heat is required to change them from liquid (droplets) to gas (water vapour). We are familiar with the fact that vaporisation requires heatfor example, a kettle heats water and turns it to steam. In temperature regulation, heat from an organisms body is used for evaporation, cooling the internal environment of the body down in the process. (See Fig. 1.11.)





Detecting change

Thermoreceptors are present both outside and inside the body. Peripheral receptors are located in the skin and central thermoreceptors monitor the temperature of the blood

as it circulates throughout the brain. The central receptors are present in the hypothalamus of the brain (see Fig. 1.11) and are sensitive to extremely small temperature changes (a fraction of a degree).

Figure 1.10 Humans are able to maintain a relatively constant body temperature despite uctuations in the external environment

skin blood vessels dilate; blood carries heat to the skin surface body temperature decreases: hypothalamus shuts off cooling mechanisms

Figure 1.11 Flow chart showing the regulation of body temperature in humans

in hypothalamus control centre detects change and activates cooling mechanisms

begin here STIMULUS: increased body temperature (e.g. when exercising or in hot surroundings)

sweat glands activated, high increasing evaporative cooling

HOMEOSTASIS body temperature low

or begin here STIMULUS: decreased body temperature (e.g. due to cold surroundings)

body temperature increases: hypothalamus shuts off warming mechanisms

skin blood vessels constrict, keeps control centre warm and reduces heat loss from skin surface

hypothalamus control centre detects change and activates warming mechanisms

skeletal muscles activated; shivering generates heat



In pairs, discuss the familiar responses that you are aware of in your own bodies on a hot day or when you have been exercising, as opposed to your body responses on a really cold day. Try to work out how these responses bring about heating or cooling.


The hypothalamus is also the control centre for temperature regulation in the mammalian body and so the receptors do not have to transmit the information very far in order to elicit a response. The anterior hypothalamus has a heat-loss centre, which sends messages to effectors to cool the body down, and the posterior hypothalamus has a heat-gain centre, which initiates responses that help the body to warm up.
Counteracting change

The main homeostatic organ involved in temperature regulation in humans is the skin. Effectors that assist the body to cool down when it has overheated, or to warm up if it has overcooled, include the blood vessels (arterioles) in the skin, sweat glands and hair erector muscles in the skin, and the muscles of the body. The thyroid gland, which affects overall metabolic rate, is also an effector. (See Fig. 1.11.)
Warming the body

If the body becomes too cold, the heatgain centre of the hypothalamus stimulates responses in the effector organs to generate and/or retain heat within the bodyon a cold day we get goose bumps on our skin, become pale and shiver: Raised hairs on the body (goose bumps) are an attempt to trap a layer of warm air around the body to reduce the amount of heat lost by radiation, convection and

conduction. The hypothalamus stimulates the erector muscles in the skin to contract, raising the hairs. This is more effective at trapping heat where the hair is thicker, for example on our heads (and all over on animals with thick fur). Vasoconstrictionconstriction (narrowing) of the arterioles to the skin: people who are very cold tend to appear pale-faced, with blue-tinged lips, ngers and toes due to poor circulation. Heat is carried throughout the body in the bloodstream. To prevent too much heat being lost from the body surface, the muscular walls of the small blood vessels known as arterioles constrict so that most blood ow is redirected to the core (centre) of the body, preventing heat loss from the cooler body surface. Shivering is brought about by rapid, small muscle contractions, which generate heat in the body. Increased metabolism: the heat-gain centre stimulates the activity of the thyroid gland, causing it to speed up metabolism. (See Fig. 1.12.)
Cooling the body

If the body becomes too hot, we become red, sweaty and sluggish, signs that our heat-loss mechanism has been activated to bring about cooling of the body. The heat-loss centre of the hypothalamus stimulates the effector organs to lose heat:




blood vessel constricts (vasoconstriction)


blood vessel dilates (vasodilation)

increased heat loss across epidermis

Figure 1.12 Temperature-regulating responses of the skin: (a) vasoconstriction conserves heat; (b) vasodilation brings about heat loss; (c) sweating brings about heat loss

epidermis heat conservation evaporation (c) water vapour sweat droplet sweat pore epidermis heat hair pain receptors increased heat loss


sweat duct

sweat gland increased heat loss

Vasodilationdilation (expansion) of the arterioles to the skin: blood carrying heat is directed towards the surface of the body so that heat can be lost by conduction, convection and radiation to the surroundings. Sweating: Sweat glands, the main heat-loss structures in the body, are activated by the heat-loss centre in the hypothalamus. Liquid sweat is secreted through the sweat pores onto the surface of the skin and heat is removed from the body to evaporate the liquid. (If you stand in the sun and the heat from the sun evaporates the sweat, you will not cool down as quickly as in the shade, where heat is being removed from your body for evaporation.)

Animals that do not have sweat glands still lose heat by evaporation; for example, dogs pant, and rodents and kangaroos lick their bodies so that the saliva evaporates and cools them down. A cooling process based on evaporation occurs in plants as wellwater evaporates from the leaves, removing the heat of vaporisation from the plant in the process. This loss of water from the plant is known as transpiration. Decreased metabolism: the heatloss centre causes the thyroid gland to lower the rate of metabolism, generating less heat. This accounts for why we feel tired and lethargic on hot days.



Student worksheetthe role of the nervous system in the stimulus response pathway for temperature regulation



Model of a feedback system

H12.2; H12.3; H12.4 H13.1 H14.1f; H14.3

gather, process and analyse information from secondary sources and use available evidence to develop a model of a feedback mechanism
chart, an annotated sequence of diagrams or a combination of these, or it may be an actual working model accompanied by a written explanation. This model will then be applied to explain the negative feedback mechanism of temperature regulation in the human body. (See PFA H2.) 1. To develop a model to show the sequence of steps typical of a negative feedback mechanism: (a) Gather information from a variety of sources, looking at several negative feedback mechanisms in both the living and non-living world (see the recommended websites on the Student Resource CD). (b) Present your model in a simple and concise format that can be applied to explain specic examples of negative feedback loops typical of living organisms. (c) Represent each of the following on your model: (i) stimuli: stimulus increases/decreases (ii) co-ordinating (control) centre (iii) effectors (iv) responses. 2. Use your model to explain how temperature regulation in humans is a negative feedback mechanism. 3. Answer the questions below.

Background information
To maintain homeostasis, organisms must monitor any changes in the internal environment and then correct the deviations. Monitoring change and then responding to it is termed feedback. The type of response determines whether this feedback is positive or negative. If the response counteracts or cancels out the change (stimulus), this is known as negative feedback and this mechanism ensures that a constant internal environment is maintained. Temperature regulation is a typical feedback mechanism. Most living systems rely on negative feedback to maintain homeostasis. If the body implements a response that increases (enhances) the change (stimulus), this is termed positive feedback. Positive feedback is very unusual in living systems and occurs only in rare and specic instances. For example, during childbirth the stretching of the uterus wall causes the muscles of the uterus to contract. The contractions cause the uterus wall to stretch further; this in turn increases the contractions, eventually resulting in the birth of the baby. Within the body, most positive feedback systems are part of some broader overall mechanism that maintains homeostasis. There are many examples of negative feedback in everyday life, both in living systems and in the non-living world. For example, the thermostat control of oven temperature in the kitchen or the cooling and heating of buildings by air-conditioning units both rely on a negative feedback mechanism. Within biological systems, examples include the regulation of temperature in the organisms, as well as maintaining the concentration of the many chemicals present. In mammals, chemical balance in blood includes maintaining the glucose (blood sugar) level, the oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration, regulating pH levels and much more. Negative feedback loops in the human body are meticulously co-ordinated by the nervous and/ or endocrine (hormonal) systems.


Relevant t websites b it and questionsnegative feedback model

Discussion questions
1. Draw a ow-chart diagram of your model of a negative feedback mechanism. 2. Use the websites listed to develop a general model for a negative feedback mechanism and then compare your model with negative feedback in temperature regulation in humans.
Temperature regulation


Answers to student worksheet

Model The stimuli The co-ordinating (control) centre The effectors The negative feedback loop

Students are required to develop a model to demonstrate the concept of a feedback mechanism. The model should entail a generalised representation of a negative feedback loop and may take the form of a ow



3. Using the model of a negative feedback mechanism that you have developed or the generalised one given to you by your teacher, use different-coloured pens to annotate the model with the various stages of temperature regulation in humans. 4. Validating your model: (a) Describe ways in which the application of your model to temperature control is an accurate representation of a negative feedback mechanism. (b) Describe any limitations of this model for temperature control. 5. Complete the table below by naming the effectors and summarising the responses that occur in each when body temperature increases in mammals.

Heat ________ centre of the hypothalamus sends nerve impulses to effector organs: Effectors Responses

6. Complete the table below by naming the effectors and summarising the responses that occur in each when body temperature decreases in mammals.
Heat ________ centre of the hypothalamus sends nerve impulses to effector organs: Effectors Responses

Temperature limits of living organisms

identify the broad range of temperatures over which life is found compared with the narrow limits for individual species
not only proteins, but also nucleic acids; this destruction of DNA results in cell death. It is therefore not surprising that habitats that offer temperature conditions that are fairly stable and those that fall within a relatively narrow range are highly sought after and result in much competition. Most living things live at temperatures between 10 and 35C. Active growth in most plants occurs between 5 and 40C. Some species of plants and animals have moved and adapted to occupy niches where temperatures fall outside of the optimal temperature range, expanding the range of temperatures over which life can be found.
The broad range of temperatures over which life is found


Temperature tolerance in living things

Temperature is one of the many limiting factors that can determine the presence of life on Earth. Without these limiting factors (such as water, nutrients, light, oxygen and a balanced pH) living organisms cannot survive. A reduction in the accessibility of these resources restricts the metabolic processes or growth within an organism. Chemical reactions that occur in cells take place only within a relatively narrow range of temperatures, due to the temperature sensitivity of enzymes. For example, tissue temperatures greater than 42C are lethal to most organisms, as important enzymes begin to denature at this temperaturethe weak hydrogen bonds in enzymes break and temperature increases; the changed shape of the enzymes (and their distorted active sites) results in a reduced ability to function and this has adverse effects on metabolism. Extreme temperatures (above 100C) denature

The diverse array of living organisms on Earth are found across a broad range of temperaturesthere are living creatures that can survive in temperatures as low as 70C (at the poles) or as high as 56C in deserts and 350C (in hot vents



in the sea). However, individual species cannot survive in an environment with a temperature range this large; they need much narrower ranges. There is an enormous variation in temperature over the Earth. The average variation in environmental temperature is more prominent on land (89 to 60C) compared with ocean water (2 to 30C), although near submarine hydrothermal vents ocean temperatures can exceed 350C. This vast range of temperatures found on Earth has been benecial in allowing diversity of niches for species. Species that occupy habitats with extreme conditions (such as very hot water, ice or extreme salt conditions) are sometimes referred to as extremophiles.
The narrow limits of temperature for individual species

Much like enzymes, species have an optimal range of temperatures at which they can function. For each living species, this is a fairly narrow temperature range within which they can live comfortably. The temperature range in which a species can survive is termed its tolerance range for temperature and is usually only a few degrees outside of the range at which it is comfortable. There are exceptions (e.g. the Pompeii worm described below), but very few organisms can survive in a broad range of temperatures.
Tolerance ranges for individual species

including extremes such as salinity, drought and ood.) One of the hottest environments on Earth is in the vicinity of submarine hydrothermal vents, where temperature can reach 350C. These extreme environments support a community of creatures including microbes such as the hyperthermophilic microbe Pyrolobus fumarii, which grows optimally at 106C but can withstand temperatures of 113C. The most heat-tolerant animal known is the Pompeii worm (Alvinella pompejana), discovered by French scientists in the 1980s (see Fig. 1.13). These polychaetes live in tubes on the sea oor near hydrothermal vents and they show extraordinary tolerance to an extremely wide range of temperaturesthey have been recorded living in water with the tail end at 80C and the head end at 22C. Scientic research into how Pompeii worms can withstand such extreme temperatures seems to suggest that they are insulated to some degree by a eece-like covering of bacteria on their backs. They have a symbiotic relationship with the bacteriathe worms secrete mucus from tiny glands on their backs to feed the bacteria

Water-holding frog (Cyclorana platycephala) 3 to 39C Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) 8 to 34C Sydney blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna) 1 to 34C Silky oak (Grevillea robusta) found in alpine regions 0 to 38C. (The tolerance range of an organism is the degree to which an organism can tolerate and survive a signicant variation in environmental factors,

Figure 1.13 Pompeii worm



Source an image of hydrothermal vents and/or the organisms that can be found living in their vicinity. The term hypothermophilic means extremely heat loving and is derived from Greek. Try to match the English meaning with its Greek word roots.

in return (see the interactive website on the Student Resource CD). Other organisms living in this community include vent crabs and tubeworms. Deserts are another environment where there are extreme temperature conditions. In some deserts, the difference between day and night temperatures is very large. The Sahara desert in North Africa is the location of the most heat-tolerant insect the Sahara desert ant (Cataglyphis bicolor). It can maintain its core body temperature at approximately 56C for an extended period of time, when the surface temperature is 70C. Australia also has a large number of plants and animals that can survive the extreme temperatures associated with deserts these will be studied in the secondarysource investigations that follow. Some organisms can withstand

the immense temperatures of res. Australian plants such as the banksia rely on the intense temperature of res for seed release; and bottlebrush trees have buds in a protected position beneath the barkthese buds resprout after re. In contrast to extreme heat, freezing environments also provide extreme conditions. Microbes including bacteria, lichen (a symbiotic association between algae and fungi) and fungi (yeasts) have been found in environments where the temperature range is 17C to 20C. Some multicellular organisms, such as the Arctic fox, can withstand even colder temperatures such as 70C, having adaptations such as countercurrent exchange and shunting blood vessels within their limbs. Polar bears can survive temperatures as cold as 50C.


Student d t activity ti it temperature and living things

Figure 1.14 Animals that live in temperature extremes: (a) arctic fox; (b) camel




Temp Temperature regulation in ectothermic and endot endothermic organisms

compare responses of named Australian ectothermic and endothermic organisms to changes in the ambient temperature and explain how these responses assist temperature regulation
become active at night if the daytime temperature is too hot. If the ambient temperature rises beyond the brown snakes tolerance level, it will seek shelter in the shade during the day and become active in the later part of the day when it is cooler, or even at night. If the ambient temperature drops below the optimum, snakes bask in the sunlight to gain additional heat. In very cool weather, the snake becomes less active, slowing down its metabolism and using fat reserves. If the cold period is prolonged (e.g. in winter), the snake will hibernate in a sheltered spot. The central netted dragon (Ctenophorus nuchalis) is an Australian desert-adapted lizard that inhabits central Australias plains and open scrub. It is able to withstand variations in body temperature from 13 to 44C. In low ambient temperatures the dragon will lie in the sunlight and alter its body position to expose more of its body surface area to the suns rays, increasing its core body temperature.

The terms ectotherms and endotherms relate to the ability of an animal to regulate its body temperature. (Therm relates to temperature; ecto means outside and endo means within.) Ectothermic organisms depend on an external sourcethe environmentfor heat energy. Fish, amphibians, reptiles and most invertebrates fall into this category. Endotherms rely on internal sources such as metabolic activity for heat energy. Birds and mammals are all endothermic. The ambient temperature is the temperature of the environment the air or water in the immediate surroundings of an animal.

Ectothermic organisms
Under laboratory conditions, the body temperature of ectotherms tends to uctuate (rise and fall) over a wider range of temperaturesit is inuenced by the ambient temperature and the organism has only a limited ability to control its body temperature. In nature, these organisms adapt their behaviour to regulate their body temperature and so if it is measured in the wild (using a radio telemetry device), their body temperature does not show as wide a range of uctuations. The eastern brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis) is found in hot, dry areas of Australia, along the eastern seaboard. Brown snakes are found across most of Australia, inhabiting a range of habitats from open grasslands to desert scrub, but not in rainforest areas. Brown snakes are usually diurnal (awake during the day), but may

Figure 1.15 Central netted dragon



It shelters from cold winds and may move out into the sun on warmer days. If the ambient temperature rises above its heat tolerance level, the central netted dragon will retreat into the shade of rocks and vegetation or into a burrow and reduce its activity to avoid overheating. It will then emerge at night to hunt when it is cool.

Endothermic organisms
Under laboratory conditions and in nature, the body temperature of endothermic organisms tends to remain stable (within a couple of degrees), despite variation in the ambient temperature. An endothermic organism has the ability to control its body temperature and maintain it at a stable level within a very narrow range. If the ambient temperature rises above or drops below the animals tolerance level, endothermic mammals and birds are able to adjust their metabolic rate to control heat loss. In low ambient temperatures, the main source of heat in the body of endotherms is that generated as a result of the metabolic activity of their cells, particularly the muscle and liver cells. The size of an animal also plays a signicant role in the regulation of body temperaturea small body loses heat much more quickly and so small mammals often have a high metabolic rate. Some endotherms have special heatproducing tissue called brown fat, which can be quickly metabolised in cold conditions. The common bentwing bat (Miniopterus schreibersii) produces brown fat in late summer and through autumn when food is abundant. In the cold winter months, periods of torpor can last up to 12 days. The brown fat is metabolised and used to increase the body temperature, allowing these bats to y after periods of torpor. If the ambient temperature is high, endotherms have a physiological cooling mechanism as wellthe rate

of heat loss from the body can be adjusted by altering the ow of blood near the body surface. Evaporative cooling such as sweating, panting or licking saliva onto the body surface is another common cooling mechanism. Evaporative cooling brings with it the risk of water loss. Animals that live in hot, dry climates have to develop mechanisms for cooling that do not allow too great a loss of water. Endotherms also show adaptations in their behaviour to help regulate their body temperature. Body temperature in humans is approximately 37C and that of birds is 40C (these may uctuate within about 1.5C). The fairy penguin (Eudyptula minor) is found along the southern Australian coastline and in Tasmania and New Zealand. It is the smallest of all penguins and lives in burrows in coastal sand dunes, not in the ice and snow like most penguins. (For those students living in or visiting Sydney, the colonies of fairy penguins on the harbourside at Manly are well worth seeing.) Fairy penguins have feathers that provide an insulating layer; trapping a layer of air close to the skin reduces the amount of heat lost. This layer of air can be altered depending on the ambient temperature. In cold conditions the feathers are lifted away from the skin, increasing the air layer and providing a greater degree of insulation. In hotter conditions the fairy penguins feathers lie at against the skin, trapping a smaller amount of air. Penguins also have behavioural mechanisms to regulate body temperature, moving into the water to cool down in hot conditions or huddling close together in cold conditions to reduce the surface area of each penguin exposed to the cold. They may also retreat to their burrows. The mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus) lives above 1400 metres in the alpine regions of



Figure 1.16 Fairy penguins

south-eastern Australia. It has short legs, a round body and small ears with limited circulation, which assist

in minimising heat loss. In prolonged cold during the winter months, they hibernate and go into a state of torporthe pygmy possums curl into a ball, drawing all appendages (legs, nose, ears and tail) in towards the body to reduce the surface area exposed to the cold. They also use a burrow to shelter from the cold in shorter periods of low ambient temperature. To avoid overheating, mountain pygmy possums are nocturnal marsupialsduring the day they shelter in rock crevices and this behaviour allows them to avoid exposure to excessive temperatures (and predators) and to keep their metabolic rate low during the heat of the day.

Adaptations and responses of Australian organisms for temperature regulation

H12.3; H12.4 H13.1 H14.1

analyse information from secondary sources to describe adaptations and responses that have occurred in Australian organisms to assist temperature regulation
adaptation will be dealt with in more detail when you cover evolution and genetics in Module 2.) Adaptations can be divided into three major groups: behavioural (the way an organism acts), structural (the physical characteristics of the organism) or physiological (the way the organisms body functions). Organisms will show a combination of adaptations to deal with temperature regulation.

Background information
What is an adaptation?
Have you ever experienced what it is like to spend winter outdoors in the freezing cold of the Snowy Mountains, or summer in the hot, dry desert regions of central Australia? Most of us are not very comfortable at these temperatures, yet indigenous Australian ora and fauna live there year after year. These organisms are able to do so because they are well suited to their unusual environments, as a result of evolutionary change by natural selectionthat is, the process of adaptation. An adaptation is a characteristic that increases the survival and reproductive chances of an organism in its environment. Note: An adaptation is not a change that an organism makes in response to the environment, to help it survive. Adaptations usually begin as variations that arise randomly in individuals and have a genetic basis (i.e. they can be inherited). Natural selection acts upon these variations, so that those that suit the organism to its environment are passed on within a population survival of the ttest. (The genetic basis of

Behavioural adaptations
Behavioural adaptations are displayed by both ectotherms and endotherms. The main behavioural adaptation seen in animals is that they alter the position of the body and increase or decrease the amount of exposure of their surface area to the sunlight. Many organisms will seek shade or shelter in burrows if the ambient temperate exceeds their tolerance level. Frillnecked lizards (Chlamydosaurus kingii) bask in the sun until they reach an adequate core body temperature and will then retreat into the shade. During the hottest part of the day the red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) will seek shade and sit in a position where its hind legs and tail are shaded by the rest of the bodythey are


Student d t activity ti it adaptation and responses to change



positioned at right angles to the body, with the tail pointing forward, to reduce the large surface area exposed to sun. The water-holding frog (Cyclorana platycephala) retires to a burrow in extreme temperature conditions. It survives hot, dry conditions by living in burrows below the surface. In extremely arid conditions, it lives within a cocoon made from secreted mucus and its cast-off skin, which is shed after rain and then dries out, forming a waterproof covering. This minimises exposure to heat as well as reducing water loss and dehydration. Nocturnal activity is another common behavioural adaptation seen in animals that live in habitats where the daytime temperature is very hot. Nocturnal animals remain relatively inactive during the heat of the day, so that they do not generate additional metabolic body heat as a result of increased activity. (Increased activity must be supported by greater energy production, which relies on a higher metabolic rate.) Nocturnal activity is seen in many reptiles and birds that inhabit hot, arid areas and the few mammals that are able to survive desert conditions (for example, the bilby, Macrotis lagotis). Some organisms like the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) and the brown snake are diurnal, but change their normal active periods from daytime to night during hot weather. Migration is another behavioural adaptation that can assist in the regulation of body temperature. Migrating organisms physically move to a different habitat that is within their tolerance range. The grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola) breeds in the Northern Hemisphere between May and August and then migrates to Australia over August and stays until April. This migration allows the birds to avoid severe

weather during winter. (See the Student Resource CD for additional information.) As these migratory waterbirds inhabit many countries, there is a need for international cooperation to recognise and to conserve these species. Over the past 30 years, this has come about through international conventions on migratory species, and bilateral agreements with Japan, China and more recently the Republic of Korea have assisted with conservation of the species and their habitats. The ight path, East AsianAustralian Flyway, launched in 2006, has also been acknowledged as one of eight major waterbird yways, which cover 22 countries.

Structural adaptations
Structural adaptations that assist with temperature control include insulation such as fur, hair, feathers, insect scales and coats that enable a layer of air to be trapped to reduce the amount of heat lost. The feathers of the emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) act as an insulator to reduce heat gain or loss. Blubber is another form of insulation to reduce heat loss from organisms living in water, such as the Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus). This signicantly minimises heat loss. The surface area to volume ratio is also an important structural component of temperature regulation, as larger animals have a smaller surface area to volume ratio, which means they will not lose as much heat as smaller animals. Larger animals such as the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) have large, compact bodies that have relatively small surface areas from which they can lose their internally produced heat; therefore the wombat loses very little heat

Figure 1.17 (a) Red kangaroos lying in a shaded position; (b) water-holding frog



Figure 1.18 Bilby

to its surroundings, which is mostly helpful in the cooler months. Colouration of animals also assists temperature regulation, since dark colours absorb light (and associated heat) and so these animals can tolerate colder temperatures (e.g. the diamond-backed python, Morelia spilota).

Physiological adaptations
Physiological adaptations focus on the inner body functions. Metabolic activity is important for the functioning and the survival of individuals, but this activity also generates heat within the body. The rate of this activity can be altered to ensure that an individual has a better chance of surviving conditions below or above their tolerance range for temperature. Hibernation and torpor are examples where organisms lower their metabolic rate to conserve energy and, as a result, reduce the amount of metabolic heat energy that they generate within their own bodies. Another advantage of hibernation and torpor is that the organism requires very little food in this state because it does not need to expend large amounts of energy trying to regulate its body temperature by other means (e.g. shivering or sweating). Hibernation is an extended period of inactivity in response to cold, where the body temperature does not drop below 30C, but the heart rate and oxygen consumption drop considerably. (Oxygen consumption is a good indicator of metabolic activity involved in generating energy.) Hibernation is a form of mild torpor and is less intense, but may last for a longer period of time. A state of torpor is a short-term hibernation where the body temperature drops much lower (below 30C) and metabolism, heart rate and respiratory rate decrease, accompanied by a reduced response to external stimuli. Torpor

may be part of a daily cycle of temperature change and, because the body temperature drops to almost the same temperature as the air around it, brings with it the advantage of a slower metabolism, in addition to helping them to conserve energy, which is in short supply as they do not eat and drink in this state. In contrast, the mountain pygmy possum hibernates during cold winters to reduce the amount of energy required to keep its body warm. The common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) slows its metabolism down to a third of its normal metabolic rate on hot days, particularly when sheltering in its burrow. This is a useful strategy, as wombats do not have sweat glands to assist in heat loss. Organisms can also regulate the blood ow to increase or decrease the amount of heat lost to the surroundings. Since blood carries heat and usually the body temperature of an organism is higher than that of its surroundings, vasodilation of capillaries near the skin surface increases the amount of heat released. This mechanism is used in the red kangaroo (along with a behavioural adaptation of licking the forearm to increase heat loss as the saliva evaporates). Blood ow can also be increased or decreased at extremities to control temperature. The bilby (Macrotis lagotis) has an extensive network of capillaries throughout the ear which aid in releasing heat to its surroundings. Furthermore, a mechanism called countercurrent exchange allows the warm blood in arteries (owing from the heart towards the extremities) to heat the cooler blood in the veins coming back from the cold extremities, before this blood is returned to the heart. This occurs in the feet of platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) as well as the ns of the Australian fur seal, so that the internal core temperature is not lowered by cool blood returning from limbs that have a large surface area exposed to the cold water. Change to colouration can occur in some organisms in response to exposure to high or low temperatures. As previously mentioned, colour plays a role in temperature regulation because darker colouration assists in the absorption of light to gain heat. If the colour of an organism can change, this enables it to live and remain active over a wider temperature range. For example, the male Australian alpine grasshopper (Kosciuscola tristis), commonly referred to as the chameleon grasshopper, is a dark, almost black colour at temperatures below 15C (for example, during the cool parts of the day such as morning) and as it basks in the sun it becomes a paler blue colour to reect light and avoid overheating. Its blue colouration is typically seen at temperatures above 25C.



In addition to this physiological change linked to behaviour, they also show other behavioural methods of reducing overheating such as seeking shade or exposing themselves to wind. In this way the Australian alpine grasshopper increases the amount of time that it can be active during the day. As is evident from the above examples, some adaptations are a combination of structural, behavioural and physiological features. For example, a red kangaroo licks its paws to cool itself down through the evaporation of water on its skin. The location of many blood vessels near the surface of the skin in the forearms and paws is a structural adaptation; the dilation of arterioles in hot conditions to direct more blood ow through these vessels is physiological; and the licking activity to impart saliva for evaporative cooling is behavioural.

1. Select TWO named Australian animals that you will use for an in-depth study of temperature regulation. One should be an ectotherm and one an endotherm. Some suggested examples are: Australian ectothermsblue-tongue lizard, water-holding frog, brown snake, broad-headed snake, thorny devil, Kangaroo Island tiger snake and crocodile Australian endothermsred kangaroo, emu, duck-billed platypus and spinifex hopping mouse. 2. Analyse information from secondary sources relating to these animals and then answer the questions on the Student Resource CD. Read information in the textbook (pages 2429) and on the Student Resource CD, which are secondary sources. Additional sources may be accessed,

depending on the organisms selected for study.

Discussion questions
See the Student Resource CD for discussion questions.

Figure 1.19 Australian alpine grasshopper (Kosciuscola tristis) has blue colouring at higher temperatures and an almost black colour at low temperatures

Adaptations and responses of Australian organisms for temperature regulation: pubs/fauna.pdf Australian desert-dwelling animals and their adaptations abstract/20/6/1278 Body-temperature regulation studies in some Australian Aboriginal people and investigating animals in extremes-polar and desert environments


Skillprocessing and analysing information from secondary sources

Temperature changes and responses in plants

identify some responses of plants to temperature change

it is for animals. Plants respond to changes in light, water availability and temperature, all of which are linked, since heat is often associated with light (for example, the radiant energy of sunlight) and hot areas are often dry, compromising evaporative coolinga plant needs to strike a ne


Changes in temperature in the natural environment of plants affect both their functioning and their growth. (Growth and temperature change is dealt with on the Student Resource CD.) Maintenance of a relatively stable internal environment is just as important for plant metabolism as


balance between the risks of excess water loss during cooling versus heat build-up during water conservation. Low availability of water may also be associated with very cold temperatures, since frozen water (ice and snow) is not available for use by plants. In this chapter, we deal with responses of plants to temperature change, and in Chapter 3 we deal with adaptations of plants to assist in water conservation, but these are closely linked.

Plant responses to high temperatures

Temperatures above 40C may cause damage to proteins and those above 75C to chlorophyll pigment within the plant. Since plants cannot move into the shade the way animals can, plant responses to excessive temperature are mostly structural and physiological: Evaporative cooling (transpiration): exposure to heat (and light) causes the stomata in plants to open, leading to a loss of water by transpiration (evaporation of water from the stomata of leaves). The advantage of this water loss is that it decreases the internal temperature in plants by evaporative cooling. However, the plants run the risk of dehydration due to water loss and so excessive heat in plants will cause stomata to close. This poses the threat of overheating. Plants have developed adaptations to cope with this (see Chapter 3). Turgor responsewilting: some plants respond with changes in turgor pressure, which allows them to reduce the exposure of their surface area to the sun and its associated heat and light, for example a wilting response. In extreme heat, plants transpire and lose turgor in the palisade cells of leaves; as a result the leaves wilt, reducing the surface area that is exposed to the sun. If water is available to the plant, this wilting is

temporary, but, if not, permanent wilting followed by death will occur. Many exotic plants that are introduced into Australia do not have adaptations that are favourable for the dry climate and so they wilt in hot temperatures. Examples are hydrangeas, peace lilies and roses (see Fig. 1.20). Leaf orientation: to overcome the problems of overheating and excessive water loss, some plants, for example eucalypts, are able to change the orientation of their leaves so that they hang vertically downwards in hot weather. This reduces the surface area that is exposed to the sun during the heat of the noonday sun. The at part of the leaf blade, with its large surface area, is exposed to the less intense rays of the early morning and late afternoon sun, but in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest, the suns rays strike the thin edge near the leaf stalk of the vertical leaves. In addition, eucalypts regulate the times of stomata opening and closing: during the cooler early morning and late afternoon, stomata are open for photosynthesis and transpiration can also occur to keep the internal temperature down, but when the temperatures increase to a level that causes water stress to the plant, the stomata will close. Leaf fall: many trees lose their leaves during the cold winter months, but eucalypts are evergreen trees that drop some of their leaves during the dry season in hot climates to reduce the surface area exposed to absorb heat. This also reduces the risk of losing too much water by transpiration. Reseeding and resprouting in response to extreme high temperaturesre : in Australia, one of the extreme temperature changes plants have to respond to



small surface area of leaves exposed to suns rays in heat of midday

sun 12 noon

Figure 1.20 Orientation of the leaves of a eucalypt to the rays of the sun over a period of 12 hours

sun 6 am

sun 6 pm

large surface area of leaves exposed to suns rays in cool morning

large surface area of leaves exposed to suns rays in cool late afternoon

6 am

12 noon

6 pm

is caused by bushres. Plants have two general responses that ensure their survival after the rethey may resprout or release seeds. Resprouters, such as the bottle brush, tea trees and eucalypts, have epicormic buds underneath the bark that are protected from damage by a re and then resprout; or they may have lignotubers, which are underground and sprout new growth after the re. Seeders release seeds into the environment after the plant is exposed to extreme heat. Some plants (for example, banksias) have seed pods that need to be exposed to re to release their seeds), whereas other plants (for example, eucalypts) release their seeds from the top of the canopy in response to the intense heat. Thermogenic plants: biologists have been surprised to discover that there are some owers that are able to heat up by altering their metabolic rates when the ambient temperature drops. An example is the bud of the sacred lotus, Nelumbo nucifera

(found in Asia and Australia), which maintains a steady temperature of 32C (see the Student Resource CD).

Plant responses to cold temperatures

Plants have several responses to cold temperatures: Organic anti-freeze : it is often the water between cells that freezes rst, posing the greatest risk of damage to plants. Plants that inhabit environments where the ambient temperature is extremely cold, for example in alpine areas, have strategies to reduce the risk of ice forming within the cells. Some produce organic compounds that act as an anti-freeze substance, reducing the temperature at which the cytoplasm or cell sap in the vacuole freezes. (Biologists are currently researching a gene in the Antarctic hairgrass plant, which has the ability to inhibit the growth of ice crystals, preventing the plant from freezing and dying, with a view to genetically engineering other



Figure 1.21 (a) The sacred lotus ower, Nelumbo nucifera; (b) re resistant woody fruits



Figure 1.22 Deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter

plants to increase their tolerance to coldsee the Student Resource CD.) Dormancy : in response to cold temperatures, deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter (leaf

fall) and undergo a period of dormancy, which allows them to survive not only the extremely low temperatures, but also the water shortages and lower availability of sunlight. For example, the deciduous beech (Nothofagus gunnii), found in Tasmania, is the only indigenous Australian deciduous tree. It loses its leaves in late April and May after they turn into a range of autumn colours. The abscission (falling off) of leaves occurs in response to the shortening of days in autumn. The decreased period of daylight leads to a waterproof layer forming at the base of each leaf. Without water, photosynthesis cannot occur and the pigment anthocyanin becomes visible as chlorophyll declines, giving the leaves their spectacular colourings. To survive long periods of very low temperatures, some plants may produce seeds or spores, or the plant parts above the ground may die off, while the parts beneath the ground remain dormant, ready



to grow again when the warmer weather returns. The alpine ash uses seed dormancy to allow it to withstand colder temperatures at higher altitudes than other species. Vernalisation: some plants ower in response to low temperatures; for example, tulip bulbs must be exposed to between 6 weeks and 3 months of intense cold before they will ower. Australian gardeners often mimic this effect by removing tulip bulbs from the ground in

winter and storing them in the refrigerator, before replanting them in spring, to ensure that they ower. Many responses of plants to temperature change (such as leaf fall and owering) are the result of temperature and/or light changing the concentration of chemical growth regulators in plants. Responding to temperature change and the regulation of internal temperatures is important not only for the individual plant, but also for the continuation of the species.


Additional li information f ti on plant responses to temperature changes

1. Describe the importance of homeostasis in living organisms. 2. Describe the role of receptors in homeostasis. 3. Explain, Explain using an example, what is meant by a negative feedback mechanism and its importance in living systems. 4. Explain the relationship between metabolic rate and temperature regulation in birds and mammals. 5. Describe the advantage to ectotherms of allowing their body temperature to uctuate with the ambient temperature, especially at low temperatures. 6. Draw a graph to illustrate the differences in body temperatures recorded in an ectothermic reptile and an endothermic mammal who are subjected to environmental temperatures that increase steadily (in 10C increments) over a period of time from 10C to 40C. What is the optimum temperature range for an endotherm? 7. Identify whether each of the following is a structural, behavioural or physiological response or adaptation to assist in heat gain or heat loss and explain how it assists temperature regulation in living organisms. Give an example of an animal that exhibits each. (Answer in the form of a table.)
Type of response or adaptation (a) Animal curls in a ball, limbs drawn in (b) Large, thin ears (c) Burrowing (d) Basking in the sun (e) Shivering (f) Panting (g) Red face (h) Lips and nose appear blue (i) Thick fur Example of animal in which it occurs



Answers to revision questions