Biology as Poetry: Physiology

Bacteriophage Ecology Group


Body heat regulation that is dependent primarily on external rather than internal sources of heat.

An organism's body temperature can either be essentially identical to that of its immediate environment – which is the case for many aquatic organisms – or instead can be somewhat greater than the temperature of its surroundings. The latter can be accomplished either by gathering up especially abiotic calories from the environment, particularly by basking in sunshine, or instead by generating those calories internally.

Maintenance of a body temperature in excess of one's surroundings as driven by internally generated calories is described as endothermic. The opposite, where greater-than-surroundings body temperature is driven by external sources of heat, i.e., sunshine, is described instead as ectothermic.

Ectothermy is seen particularly among reptiles.

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