Effects of Temperature on Ectothermic Organisms

  • Springer
  • 2012
  • Elektronisk medie
  • DE
  • Udgave er ikke defineret
  • 9783642657030

The study of thermoregulation in endotherms has contributed much to the emergence of the concept of control theory in biology. By the same token, the study of tempera- ture adjustment in ectotherms is likely to have a far-reaching influence on ideas on the regulation of metabolism in general. The reason for this is that ectotherms, in adapting to the vagaries of a thermally unstable environment, deploy a range of subtle molecular and organismic strategies. Thus the experimenter, using temperature changes as a tool, is well equipped to analyze some of these strategies. This approach has enabled some important mechanisms of temperature-induced adaptation to be elucidated; the most striking of these are the effects on metabolism of changes in the conformation of enzymes and the transfer properties of membranes. Furthermore, there is a vague but persistent feeling among those working in this field that changes in the nervous system will ultimately prove to be the agency by which many of the molecular mechanisms of temperature adaptation are controlled. Should this indeed be the case, a new phase would soon begin in our understanding of the interactions between the systemic and the cellular levels of organization. However, it is not only questions about the causes of temperature adaptation that can provide answers of potential importance to the general biologist; of equal significance are questions as to the meaning of temperature adaptation in a particular organism.