Ectotherms

Cards describing ectotherms, their advantages and disadvantages and how they regulate body temperature

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Definition

An organism that relies on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature.

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Need to maintain body temperature


  • changes can have a dramatic effect on the structure of proteins. E.g enzyme and substrate shape must be specific in order to carry out function
  • If temperature rises too high enzymes can denature
  • Metabolic processes can slow or stop
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Advantages


  • Less food needed for respiration
  • Eat less so do not need to spend as much time finding food
  • More energy can be used for growth
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Disadvantages


  • Less active when cold
  • Must warm up in morning
  • Greater risk of becoming prey when cold
  • Incapable of activity in winter
  • Can only live in certain areas
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How Ectotherms regulate their temperature


  • Expose body to sun, more heat absorbed
  • Orientate body to sun, larger surface exposed to sun
  • Orientate body away from sun, smaller surface area exposed to sun
  • Hide in burrows, keep out of sun to reduce heat absorption
  • Alter body shape, expose more or less surface area to sun
  • Increase breathing movements, evaporate more water
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Examples of ectotherms

  • Snakes
  • Locusts
  • Lizards
  • Horned Lizards
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