The temperature has various behavioral effects on organisms that are dependent on and determined by thermal physiology, and these behaviors include a selection of microhabitats that have advantages such as the assimilation of certain nutrients, the attraction of mates, increased longevity, or even inhibition of parasite development. Baking allows the organism to reach the ideal body temperature for a particular function and increases egg production and gonadal maturation rate. Even daily activity cycles can affect thermoregulation. For example, it has been found that some flies in warmer places on Earth are more active at night to avoid exposing their eggs to high temperatures during the day.
Then how do educators explain behavioral thermoregulation to young learners?
How do they make students comfortable with the idea that temperature has various behavioral effects on organisms and is determined by thermal physiology?
What is the hurdle in learning the roles of behavioral thermoregulation by heart?
Keep reading to find answers to these questions!
Figure 1: A snippet from behavioral thermoregulation simulations by Labster.
There are three specific reasons why behavioral thermoregulation can be difficult for even the most diligent student.
Behavioral thermoregulation is influenced by many factors which you cannot see or feel. Not being able to visualize the process and not seeing its relevance to the real world can discourage learning and make it difficult for students to stay motivated.
There is a wide variety of organisms in Astakos IV, and so are thermoregulatory mechanisms and behaviors. Goslins, for example, can regulate their body temperature independently of the surrounding temperature. Gecksis, on the other hand, rely on external factors for thermoregulation. The graph below illustrates this by showing a linear relationship between the operating temperature and the gecko's body temperature. Environment, behavior, and physiology all play a role in Gecksis thermoregulation.
Figure 2: Changes in body temperature versus changes in operating temperature for Goslin and Gecksis
Operating temperature is affected by factors that determine heat gain and loss, such as radiation, conduction, and convection, which in turn depend on many aspects of the organism and its environment. This is calculated on the assumption that there is no physiological thermoregulation.
Figure 3: Operating temperature depends on several types of heat transfer
With those points in mind, here are five things you can incorporate into your behavioral thermoregulation class to make it more engaging, accessible, and fun for you and your students.
The development of the thermometer led to the quantitative study of scientific thermoregulation. A mercury-in-glass thermometer was made available to James Currie in 1798, who used it as a diagnostic and prognostic tool in his clinical studies, in his fever studies, and in his cold-water immersion experiments. The widespread use of thermometry in clinical practice arose after the publication of Handbuch der Medizin Thermometrie Wunderlich in 1868. Wunderlich attempted to determine the nature of temperature changes associated with certain disease processes. It describes the range of body temperatures of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and fish, as well as variations in daily temperature and the effect of exercise on body temperature. The thermoelectric exploitation of Becquerel and Brechet in 1835 allowed Lefebvre to use a thermocouple to measure the thermal topography of a body.
Behavioral thermoregulation: Gecksis adopt a variety of behaviors to raise and lower their body temperature. They can increase their body temperature by basking in the sun, especially when standing on rocks. This has the added advantage that they can also absorb heat by conduction from heated rocks that have stored solar radiation energy. Taking the head out of the hole in the morning and then exposing its entire body to the sun is another easy way to warm up. To cool off, Gecksis mostly seek shade and hide in their burrows. They use it to cool off when it's too hot outside, but also to escape the cold at sunset and they are often seen lifting their feet to cool off, which is pretty funny.
Figure 4: A snippet from behavioral thermoregulation simulation by Labster.
Endotherms, like mammals, can adopt any behavior that uses an ectotherm. However, they can add metabolic heating that ectotherms cannot. Thermal landscapes can be of high or low quality depending on the number of sun beds, type of food, availability, and distance from other basic environmental elements. Predicted values from virtual experiments simulating body temperature and energy expenditure of thermoregulated or optimally thermoregulated lizards in low and high-quality landscapes (one and four basking spots, respectively) were compared with the observed values. For native lizards in the experimental arena, the results suggest that non-energy benefits drive thermoregulatory behavior in an expensive setting, despite the missed opportunities for thermoregulation. Real lizards thermoregulate more accurately in high-quality landscapes than in low-quality landscapes, but consume the same amount of energy in these landscapes. Contrary to model predictions, true lizards are intensely thermoregulated in the inferior landscape, despite the potential for energy conservation through thermo conformation. In high-quality landscapes, lizards moved more than expected, indicating that lizards were exploring their environment, although they could thermoregulate without doing so.
When a topic is as complex and abstract as behavioral thermoregulation, visualization can make all the difference.
Figure 5: A snippet from behavioral thermoregulation simulations by Labster showing the necessary setup.
Nutrition and thermoregulation: Behavioral strategies for thermoregulation are dynamic, because the optimal temperature for a given individual may depend on the thermal optimality of various aspects of the physiological state. For example, grasshopper nymphs move to lower temperatures along a thermal gradient with increasing degrees of nutrient deficiency, increasing the efficiency of protein and carbohydrate assimilation at the expense of lower growth and development rates. These grasshoppers can even use this dynamic thermoregulatory behavior to optimize the absorption of certain nutrients, which vary with temperature. Similarly, the preferred temperature of some insects depends on nutritional status along the gradient, with beetles preferring lower temperatures during starvation and higher temperatures after a blood meal.
Visualization can be very helpful in understanding behavioral thermoregulation, there are few options other than memorization.
Endotherm came from the word "endo" a prefix derived from a Greek word ἔνδον endon meaning "within" can be used to recall Goslins, ability to regulate their body temperature independently of the surrounding temperature.
Ectotherm came from the word "ecto", a prefix derived from a Greek word έκτός (ektós) meaning "outside" can be used to recall Gecksis ability to rely on external factors for thermoregulation.
A unique way to teach behavioral thermoregulation is through virtual laboratory simulations. At Labster, we are dedicated to providing fully interactive state-of-the-art lab simulations that use gamified elements such as storytelling and scoring systems in an immersive, 3D world.
Explore Labster's Behavioral Thermoregulation Simulation, which allows students to learn about behavioral thermoregulation through inquiry-based active learning. In the simulation, students embark on a mission to learn about the different behaviors that can be adopted to achieve thermoregulation and then put their knowledge to the test in death-defying scenarios.
Learn more about behavioral thermoregulation simulations here or contact us to find out how you can start using virtual labs with your students.
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