Biology: The Dynamic Science (Mind...

4th Edition
Peter J. Russell + 2 others
ISBN: 9781305389892



Biology: The Dynamic Science (Mind...

4th Edition
Peter J. Russell + 2 others
ISBN: 9781305389892
Textbook Problem

Describe how thermoreceptors and negative feedback pathways achieve temperature regulation in endotherms.

Summary Introduction

To review:

The mechanism by which thermoreceptors and negative feedback mechanism regulate temperature in the endotherms.


Endotherms are warm blooded animals (birds and mammals), which obtain energy from the internal metabolic processes. Endotherms maintain the normal temperature (set range) of the body irrespective of the environment. Birds have their normal temperature of body between 39°C and 42°C and mammals have their normal temperature of body between 36°C and 39°C. They use negative feedback mechanism associated with thermoreceptors to maintain the normal temperature of the body.


Endotherms maintain the normal body temperature; when thermoreceptors present in skin, spinal cord, and hypothalamus sense a fall and rise in the set range of the normal temperature. They send signals to the hypothalamus, which integrate the signals and accordingly gives response or negative feedback to change the physiological and behavioral response to maintain the set point of body.

Responses when the body temperature falls below the set range: The hypothalamus getting signals for fall in body temperature below set range integrates them and send signals for compensating responses through autonomic nervous system. The immediate responses are triggered and if the immediate responses do not meet the normal set range then further responses are triggered.

The immediate responses include:

1. The arteriole in the skin get constricted and the flow of blood to capillaries is reduced, due to this the amount of heat delivered to the skin is reduced and ultimately, excess heat is lost from the body through the skin.

2. The hair shafts in mammals and feather shafts in birds get erected due to the contraction of smooth muscles; thus, the air is trapped in the pockets over the skin and convective heat loss is reduced.

3. Mammals move to a warmer locale, curl into a ball, or huddle together as a behavioral response to increase the body temperature and meet the set range...

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