Animal Physiology Research

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The authors of the article wrote it in mild of rising global temperatures that in the long time period pose a serious challenge to the survival of big mammals such as wildebeests, due to physiological limits. This article pursuits to sound an alarm on human pollution that is causing these adjustments by demonstrating their adverse results on other mammals and by extension us. According to the authors' arguments, the physiological mechanisms in animals are chiefly responsible for the ability of mammals to modify to changing environments; however, these physiological systems have a tendency to have a capacity limit. To make an correct prediction of the effects of climate exchange on mammals a few factors should be considered which include the species’ thermal physiological sensitivity, thermal limits and the existing relationship between thermoregulation and climate.

Concerning this, endothermic mammals are to a great extent more sensitive to rising ambient temperatures as compared to ectotherms since they evolved during the extremely cold climatic conditions. Such enhanced organismic complexity always accompanied by an increase in thermal sensitivity (Portner, 2004). Conclusively, mammals characterized by “wide thermal torelance windows,” high physiology plasticity are rarely affected by climatic changes; as compared to those that are physiologically specialized to the thermal environment (Somero, 2010) and (Bale, Master & Hodkinson, et al., 2002). Therefore, since endothermic mammals are thermal specialists, they are, therefore, vulnerable to climatic changes.


The arguments are based on facts and figures of scientists who have researched and questioned the physiological limits of large mammals in regulating rising temperatures (Somero, 2010). The article has appropriately addressed this by looking at the thermal limits of mammals as well as the effect that climate change has on thermoregulation. Good examples have been provided of animals living in already extreme heat environments such as the Arabian Oryx which may be unable to strike a balance between various functions such as thermoregulation and energy acquisition (Tewksbury, Huey & Deutsch, 2008) and (Hetem, Strauss & Fick et al., 2010). A fundamental assumption in this article is that rising temperatures will lead to decreasing water supplies while in fact there may be more, due to erratic weather patterns (Kundzewicz, Kanae & Seneviratne, 2014). Another assumption is that the carotid rete function may be insufficient in regulating the temperature of desert animals such as the Oryx (Fuller, Hetem & Maloney, 2014).


In conclusion, the authors advance a convincing argument on the dangers endothermic mammals face as a result of increasing temperature since they are operating at their uppermost physiological limits. Proper examples and informed opinions are included in the article which is meant to act as a warning against global pollution which is the primary driver of climate change.  

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Bale, J. S., Masters, G. J., Hodkinson, I. D., Awmack, C., Bezemer, T. M., Brown, V. K., ... & Good, J. E. (2002). Herbivory in global climate change research: direct effects of rising temperature on insect herbivores. Global Change Biology, 8(1), 1-16.

Carey, C. (2005). How Physiological Methods and Concepts Can Be Useful in Conservation Biology1. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 45(1), 4-11.

Fuller, A., Hetem, R. S., & Maloney, S.k., (2014). Adaptation to heat and water shortage in large, arid-zone mammals. Physiology.

Hetem, R. S., Fuller, A., & Maloney, S. K., et al. (2014). Responses of large mammals to climate change. Temperature.

Kundzewicz, Z. W., Kanae, S., & Seneviratne,et al. (2014). Flood risk and climate change: global and regional perspectives. Hydrological Sciences Journal.

Pörtner, H. O. (2004). Climate variability and the energetic pathways of evolution: the origin of endothermy in mammals and birds. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 77(6), 959-981.

Somero, G. N. (2010). The physiology of climate change: how potentials for acclimatization and genetic adaptation will determine ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. Journal of Experimental Biology, 213(6), 912-920.

Tewksbury, J. J., Huey, R. B., & Deutsch, C. A. (2008). Putting the heat on tropical animals. Science-New York Then Washington.

Ostrowski, S., Williams, J. B., & Ismael, K. (2003). Heterothermy and the water economy of free-living Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx). Journal of Experimental Biology.

Hetem, R. S., Strauss, W. M., Fick, L. G., Maloney, S. K., Meyer, L. C. R., Shobrak, M., ... & Mitchell, D. (2010). Variation in the daily rhythm of body temperature of free-living Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx): does water limitation drive heterothermy?. Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 180(7), 1111-1119.

March 24, 2021

Science Education


Learning Zoology

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Animals Research

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