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The Importance of Controlling Body Temperature

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The Importance of Controlling Body Temperature Many processes both physical and biological are affected by body temperature. Enzymes work best at their optimum temperature, and are denatured by wide deviations from this. Cell membranes become more fragile as temperature rises. Diffusion rates are increased by higher temperatures, and decreased by lower body temperatures. Liquids such as blood become more viscous (thicker) as the temperature of the body falls. Most animals control their body temperature. Some are ectotherms (outside heat), which means they can only control their body temperature by their behaviour. For example a lizard gets heat from basking in the sun but when it is too hot it will seek shade to cool down. ...read more.


An endothermic animal maintains an ideal body temperature by balancing heat loses and heat gains. Many biochemical reactions, especially respiration, in the liver generate heat. Movement generates heat by respiration and friction within the muscles. Excretion: urine and faeces are at body temperature. Heat is lost when they are expelled from the body. Heat is lost when water evaporates from the lungs and sweat evaporates from the skin. Heat can be lost by the three processes convection, radiation and conduction. Convection is the transfer of heat to and from the body on air currents; this can be increased by 'fanning' air past the body. ...read more.


Fat stores under the heat also insulate against heat loss. If the body is too cold it can use corrective mechanisms to try and conserve heat, these include shivering as muscular activity generates heat. Adding clothing as the insulation reduces heat loss and eating more as eating stimulates heat production by respiration. The skin can also prevent the three types of heat loss. Convection heat loss can be prevented by the hair erector muscles contracting which cause the hairs to rise which trap's a layer of still hair. Radiation heat loss can be prevented by vasoconstriction of the surface capillaries shunts blood away from the skin. Evaporation heat loss can be prevented by the sweat glands not secreting sweat. It can also cause heat loss if the body Is too hot. ...read more.

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