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Ability of the body to

maintain a relatively constant
internal environment
necessary for life.
Overview: Temperature


Temperature Regulation
Allows humans to cope with a wide range
of environments
Temperature Regulation
Mammals are endothermic homeotherms,
which is a very precise way of saying
they regulate their own body temperature.
It is worth noting that not all organisms
do so because it would in fact be
disadvantageous for some to do so.
Furthermore some organisms regulate
their body temperature solely through
behavioural methods.
Temperature Regulation
In humans it is the core
body temperature
which is maintained by
•1. Thermoreceptors in the skin
Receptors •2. Thermoreceptors in the hypothalamus

The thermoregulatory centre in the hypothalamus

Coordinator (subdivided into heat gain centre and heat loss centre)

•Sweat glands
•Hair erector muscles
Effectors •Arterioles supplying skin capillaries
•Skeletal muscles
Hypothalamus (of a
Hypothalamus (of a
Skin based effectors
Skin based effectors
Skin based effectors
Skin based effectors – responding to heat gain

Effector Response

Arterioles The muscles relax – this is known as vasodilation. The

supplying skin effect of this is to increases the blood flow to the surface of
the skin causing increased heat loss by radiation.
The glands secrete sweat onto the surface of the skin. The
sweat is composed mainly of water, which evaporates from
Sweat glands the skin surface. As water has a high latent heat of
evaporation the evaporating sweat removes heat from the
surface of the skin.
The muscles relax – this lowers the hairs on the skin
Hair erector surface. The hairs do not trap air when laid flat so they
muscles allow heat to be removed more easily by convection.
Skin based effectors – responding to heat loss

Effector Response

Arterioles The muscle contract – this is known as vasoconstriction.

Blood flows through the shunt vessel as this is the path of
supplying skin least resistance. Less blood flows to the surface of the skin
capillaries so there is less heat loss by radiation.

The sweat glands stop producing sweat therefore stopping

Sweat glands the heat loss of evaporating sweat.

The muscle contract – this raises the hairs on the surface

Hair erector of the skin. The effect of this is to reduce airflow therefore
muscles reducing convection of heat from the skin.
Other effectors and responses
➨Another well-known response to a lowered core
temperature is shivering. The effectors for this response are
the body’s skeletal muscles which contract and relax
involuntarily to generate heat.
➨A lowered core temperature also stimulates the release of
the hormones adreneline and thyroxine from the adrenal and
thyroid glands. Both these hormones increase the body’s
metabolic rate again generating heat.
Metabolic changes
Responding to vigorous
• stimulus is the increase in blood temperature
• this is caused by exercise/increased respiration/muscle
• the increase blood temperature is detected by receptors in the
• the hypothalamus also acts as the co-ordinator
• the effectors are muscles of arterioles
• and sweat glands
• response to arteriole muscles stimulation is vasodilation
• which causes increased blood flow to the skin capillaries
• which causes increased heat loss by radiation
• response to sweat gland stimulation is increased sweating
• which causes increased heat loss by the latent heat of
Exam questions
1.All living organisms exist in changing
external environments and many are
able to control their internal
(a) Explain how the body of a mammal
may respond to a rise in the
environmental temperature. (8marks)
Exam answers
2. Thermoreceptors in skin; nervous impulse;
to hypothalamus; blood temperature monitored;
heat loss centre involved; vasodilation / dilation of arterioles;
more blood to skin surface; more heat lost by radiation;
piloerector muscles relax; hairs flatten on skin surface;
less insulation; sweating initiated / increased;
panting / licking; evaporation removes latent heat;
thinner fur; migration;
drop in metabolic rate / use less brown fat;
accept long term changes such as less fat deposition;
accept one behavioural process;

max. 8
Exam questions
2. Size matters for marathon runners. Big athletes produce more heat and
find it harder to keep cool. Shape matters too - a tall, thin runner has fewer
problems keeping cool than a short, tubby runner of the same body mass. A
65 kg athlete running a marathon in 2 hours 10 minutes in reasonably dry
conditions can avoid overheating at air temperatures up to 37 °C, but in
humid conditions the same level of performance is possible only at
temperatures below about 17 °C.
(a) Explain how athletes produce heat when they run. (2)
(b) Why does a ‘tall, thin runner have fewer problems keeping cool than a
short, tubby runner of the same body mass’? (2)
(c) Explain why runners are more likely to overheat in humid conditions. (3)
(d) Describe how the body responds to a rise in core body temperature. (5)
(Total 12 marks)
Exam answers
2. (a) Respiration for muscular activity; (energy ‘needed/used’ for
etc, disqualifies)
respiration inefficient / releases waste heat / all energy ‘ends up as ‘heat’
(b) Larger surface area: volume ratio, or less fat under skin;
more rapid / more heat loss from body surface. 2
(c) Humidity reduces diffusion gradient / less difference in water potential;
less evaporation of sweat;
less cooling due to use of heat energy for evaporation of sweat.3
(d) Temperature receptors stimulated in; (in skin disqualifies)
heat loss centre stimulated;
nerve impulses to sweat glands;
increase rate of / start sweat production;
nerve impulses to skin arterioles;
vasodilation (ref to vessels moving disqualifies) max 5