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Heat loss in Emperor Penguins.

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Introduction

Biology: Heat loss in Emperor Penguins. Aim: In this investigate, I intend to explore the way Emperor Penguins form large huddles of birds to keep themselves warm. Emperor Penguins are the largest of their species, and grow up to 1.15m tall. As means of insulation, they have four layers of scale like feathers, and large reserves of body fat to burn for warmth. Nevertheless, in their homeland, Antarctica, temperatures can drop to 60o below zero, and the penguins on their own could not survive. They have however evolved another method of keeping warm: the birds gather in vast numbers and huddle together in huge colonies, or 'rookeries.' Within the colony, each bird takers a turn on both the inside of the group, and on the outside, providing warmth for every individual. I intend to find out how effective these immense gatherings (sometimes containing thousands of birds) are by simulating some with an experiment, and also hope to find out if the size of a huddle is related to the heat lost from the penguins. Equipment: 33 small glass beakers 6 thermometers 3 stopwatches 2 elastic bands 1 kettle and water supply (for hot water) Data recording equipment Plan: I wish to find out how varying the amount of birds affects the temperature of the huddle, and how effective the huddle is at keeping the penguins warm. ...read more.

Middle

59 63.5 60 64 63 63.7 62.0 9 62 56.5 62 59 63 62 62.3 60.5 10 60 54 61 58 62 60 61.0 58.7 11 58 54 60 57 61 59 59.7 58.0 12 56 53.5 59 56.5 60 58 58.3 57.2 13 55 53 58.5 55.5 59 57 57.5 56.3 14 53.5 53 57 53 59 56 56.5 56.0 15 53 53 56 53.5 58 55.5 55.7 55.5 16 52 52 56 53 58 54 55.3 54.7 17 52.5 52.5 56 53 58 53 55.5 54.5 18 52 52 55 52 58 53 55.0 54.3 19 52 51 55.5 52 58 52 55.2 53.7 20 52 51 55 52 58.5 52 55.2 53.8 Fig. Huddle II Experiment 1 Experiment 2 Experiment 3 Averages Time (secs.) Centre L1 L2 Centre L1 L2 Centre L 1 L2 Centre L1 L2 0 75 75 74 70 70.5 68 73.5 72 70 72.8 72.5 70.7 1 75.5 74 73.5 70 70 66 73 72 69.5 72.8 72.0 69.7 2 75 74.5 71.5 70 69.5 64 73 71 68.5 72.7 71.7 68.0 3 75 73 70 69 69 62 73 71 67 72.3 71.0 66.3 4 74 73 69 69.5 68.5 61 72.5 70 65.5 72.0 70.5 65.2 5 74.5 72 68.5 68 67 60 72 70 64.5 71.5 69.7 64.3 6 74.5 71 67 68 67.5 59 72 69.5 63 71.5 69.3 63.0 ...read more.

Conclusion

Even on the outside of the huddle, the average temperature drop was only 19.3o in Huddle III. My graphs also show that huddling, as stated in my prediction, provides most heat in the centre of the huddle, because the centre has more layers of insulation around it. Conclusion: Huddling is an extremely effective method of heat loss prevention, as can be seen from my experiments. Penguins in the centre of the huddle, from my results, could stand to lose more than 50% less heat than they would do on their own. Even penguins on the outside and middle layers of the huddle stand to gain from the insulation huddling provides. Evaluation: Although my experiment was successful, there was lots I could have done to improve it. For example, the thermometers used to read the temperatures had to be read manually by eye, and provided very imprecise results. I could have gained by using electronic thermometers, with a computer and/or data logger to obtain my results. I could also have made the starting temperatures of the water all the same, by using a different method of heating combined with the above thermometers. In real life, penguins move constantly within the huddle to give everyone a chance in the middle and to create heat via movement and friction. My experiment did not reflect this movement, which is very important to the huddle. ...read more.

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