Behavioral Thermoregulation: Help keep a gecksi alive!

Time to complete course: 35 min.

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About Behavioral Thermoregulation: Help keep a gecksi alive! Virtual Lab Simulation

Gecksis need to constantly make decisions to maintain body temperature as well as water and energy levels within physiological ranges. In this simulation, you will learn about the different behaviors that can be adopted to achieve thermoregulation and then put your knowledge to the test in death-defying scenarios. Best of luck!

Collect data to build a biodome

On a newly discovered exoplanet similar to Earth, Astakos IV, there are many exciting organisms to be studied. A biodome will be built on Earth to showcase all this biodiversity, but first we need to learn about the specific habitat requirements and physiological ranges for each organism, so that you can create the optimal conditions. One such organism, the gecksi, is able to live in three different environments by performing a variety of behaviors in order to regulate its body temperature.

Watch out for that predator!

Once you have learned the basics about gecksis and thermoregulation, you will be challenged to keep a gecksi alive within appropriate ranges of temperature and energy. You will begin your work in the desert, where there isn’t a lot of shade, food or water. Then, in the shrubland, a richer environment, the gecksi has more to choose from: rocks to bask on, nests to cool down in, and tastier food. Changing color to retain more or less heat is also a cool trick that it can do! The final environment, the forest, looks very safe and has lots of food, but in order to warm up, the gecksi must venture out into the sunny clearing, where predators lurk. Will you be able to keep the gecksi healthy and escape the predators?

Models versus real life

After having experienced what it’s like to be a gecksi, you will be familiar with research using modelling to predict thermoregulatory behavior and know how that compares to behavior of real organisms in the field.

Get Started Now

Life is hard when you need to constantly work to maintain your body temperature and keep your energy levels in check. Think like a gecksi, make wise choices and try to keep the gecksi alive in three challenging environments!

Techniques in Lab

  • Energy and temperature budget analysis

Learning Objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to…

  • Explain changes in microclimate over small spatial scales and predict how this would influence the energy and water budgets of an organism
  • Identify ways that an organism can regulate its body temperature in a given environment and discuss the costs and benefits of each strategy
  • Predict and analyze the thermoregulatory behavior of an animal in a natural environment

Simulation Features

Length – 35 minutes
Accessibility mode – Not Available
Languages – English

Examples of Related Standards


Biology/Ecology related 1st & 2nd year


No direct alignment


No direct alignment


Potentially too high level, but could support: Big Idea 4: Systems interactions

Screenshots of Behavioral Thermoregulation: Help keep a gecksi alive! Virtual Lab Simulation


Dr. Michael Angilletta

School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University

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