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Australian Ectotherms & Endotherms

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Australian Ectotherms & Endotherms What are Ectotherms and endotherms? Most animals are Ectotherms. Ectotherms are animals that cannot maintain a constant body temperature which means that their metabolism rates are affected by the exterior temperature of the environment. Endotherms are animals that can maintain a constant body temperature. So, this means that endotherms can control the rate of heat exchange by: panting; sweating; by using their physical characteristics-fur, hair, feathers or body fat for insulation; or by migration, burrowing, etc (which relates to the numerous behavioural characteristics used by these animals to control heat exchange). Most mammals and birds are endotherms. Examples of ectotherms Desert Lizard (from central Australia): Desert lizards regulate their body temperatures by trying to burrow or seek shelter under rocks when trying to avoid high temperatures. Some desert lizards can alter the colour on their back in order to reflect heat or to absorb heat. A light colour helps them to reflect the heat, whereas the darker colours help them absorb heat. ...read more.


They often use the various shelters to avoid heat when there is a need, only to resurface when they need more heat. This behavioural adaptation helps assist the blue-tongued lizard's temperature regulation while at the same time being adapted to human activity. Examples of endotherms: The red kangaroo (lives in Australia's arid regions): The red kangaroo has various means of regulating body temperature. The fur and body fat helps this mammal to stay warm. Also, the light colour of the fur helps it to reflect heat. During the high ambient temperatures (when it's hot), this mammal avoids the heat by seeking shelter, and by licking its forelimbs to increase heat loss by evaporation of water. In addition to this, the red kangaroo also pants and sweats so that it can cool down (as a response to heat). Apart from this, the red kangaroo reduces the surface area exposed to the sun on a hot day by altering its posture (where the tail is pulled into the shade of the body, while the body slightly curls up) ...read more.


Apart from curling up, this mammal also keeps warm due to its fine and dense fur. The mountain pygmy possum inhabits what could be described as a boulder field (repeated wetting and freezing of water on rock surfaces have resulted in the fragmentation of boulders, thus creating the boulder field). So this habitat also helps keep this mammal cool during the warmer days. Thus, the mountain pygmy possum regulates its body temperature by avoiding the ambient temperatures experienced throughout the day, while at the same time retains heat by sleeping curled up as well as keeps warm despite the cool surroundings due to its dense fur. So the behavioural adaptation of it being nocturnal and the structural characteristic of having a dense fur help it to regulate its body temperature. This mammal doesn't really display responses to the ambient temperature of the environment, except for perhaps curling up to sleep to avoid throughout the day. ...read more.

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