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Why do endotherms need more food than ectotherms?

Why do endotherms need more food than ectotherms?



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I have a rough idea: endotherms need more food to keep their temperature stable whilst ectotherms use less of their food in respiration.

  • but that's just me parroting the textbook I don't really understand it.

Could someone help out? Thank you.


Endotherms also called warm blooded animals have the ability to regulate their body temperature by themselves.

  1. If the endotherms are in a cold place their body increases the metabolism and generates more heat. This will compensate for the cold outside.

  2. In a hot region the body metabolism is tuned down (this is not as efficient as the adaptation to cold region - as the metabolism can't be turned down below a certain limit - this will result in death) a little and heat generation is somewhat reduced. The second and more efficient mechanism is the heat dissipation by sweating and through skin (directly).

Ectotherms on the other hand, do not have efficient temperature regulation systems.

  1. In warm regions when the temperature is high, the ectotherms seek shade and low-temperature areas to prevent over-heating

  2. In cool regions they seek sunlight and expose themselves to the sunlight for warmth. For the same reason, they can also search out and stay near fire pits, campfires etc…

So when we calculate the energy demands, the ectotherms need more energy as they regulate their own metabolisms to match the need.

The increase in need for energy in hot condition maybe due to:

  1. The extra-processes that are regulated like sweating, increased peripheral vasodilation - thereby increasing circulatory rate (increased work for heart)
  2. This thermo-regulation inturn affects other processes and systems like electrolyte and water balance, excretory system, endocrine system, thrist, etc…

During the cold season increased metabolism itself is the main cause for increased need for energy.


An ectotherm is an [cold-blooded] organism which is dependent on external sources of body heat. They do not need to regularly consume food to warm their bodies. As a result, they can subsist on lower metabolic rates and varying internal temperatures (poikilothermy). However, physical activity is restricted to certain hours (night) and or habitats; ectotherms tend to be rapidly exhausted.

An endotherm is an [warm-blooded] organism which is dependent on the interal generation of heat. To maintain consistent temperatures (homeothermy), they must regularly consume food for metabolism. This also allows for a greater work capacity than ectotherms. Physical activity is not limited to certain hours and or habitats.


Here's a (hopefully) simple answer:

Ectotherms eat, and convert most of the energy in their food into new biomass (i.e. producing more tissue and growing). Between meals their metabolism (all the reactions in all their cells) slows right down so they don't use much energy.

Endotherms eat, and convert most of the energy in their food into generating heat, converting a small amount into new biomass. So they need to consume more, as generating heat all the time takes loads of energy, even when resting between meals!

Hope that helps, along with the previous answers.


How does temperature affect metabolic rate in Endotherms?

Read everything about it here. Similarly, you may ask, how does temperature affect metabolic rate in Ectotherms?

Measuring Temperature and Metabolic Rate. The rate of metabolism in ectothermic animals increases as the environmental temperature increases. This rise occurs because the reactants in the cell have greater thermal energy, and many cellular enzymes are more active as temperature increases.

Also Know, what is the relationship between environmental temperature and metabolic rate in Endotherms? An organism that at rest produces sufficient metabolic heat to affect its body temperature, so that body temperatures are often higher than environmental temperatures. The metabolic rates at rest (standard metabolic rates) of endotherms are 5&ndash10 times higher than those of ectotherms.

Similarly one may ask, how does temperature affect metabolic rate in humans?

Heat increases kinetic energy in cells by speeding up the molecules involved in chemical reactions, bringing them together more often. For endothermic animals, the act of regulating body temperature increases metabolic rate.

How does temperature affect metabolism What's the advantage of being an Endotherm?

Costs and Benefits of Endothermy Increasing the rate of metabolism is especially energy intensive. As a result, endothermic animals typically need more food than ectothermic animals. Ectothermy means controlling body temperature through external means, for example, by absorbing heat from sunlight.


Endotherms vs. ectotherms and their care

Over the past two months, I have transitioned from working in the Herpetology Department to working with the feathered relatives of reptiles in the Bird Department. Shifting from one department to another is exciting in that you get to share your unique perspective with a whole new group of people and animals. Each day is an opportunity to learn something new, as well as apply something you may have done differently in the past.

There are many general similarities in the day-to-day duties between caring for reptile and amphibians vs. birds. For example: cleaning, diet-prep, feeding, enrichment, monitoring health and behavior, veterinary check-ups, etc. However, there are also many differences between working with these groups of animals. The biggest difference lies within their biology. Reptiles and amphibians are ectotherms, while birds are endotherms. An ectotherm (reptile/amphibian) relies primarily on its external environment to regulate the temperature of its body. Endotherms (birds) are able to regulate their body temperatures by producing heat within the body.

Why does this make a big difference when caring for these animals? As a bird keeper, the order of operations for your day is dictated by when the birds need to eat. Endotherms (birds) need a regular intake of food in order to produce the body heat needed to function properly. Most of our birds get fed twice a day, while most of our snakes get fed once every two weeks. From our tiny violet-backed starlings to our massive cassowary, two meals a day keeps them healthy and active. Our reticulated python, however, may not be as active as she may just have eaten a large meal that will last her for weeks! Another big difference between caring for endotherms vs. ectotherms is the way that animal habitats are set up. Most of our reptile and amphibian areas are indoors, which allows us to better regulate environmental conditions such as temperature/humidity, which are vital to the health of ectotherms. In the Bird Department, most habitats are outdoors. As long as the birds get regular supplies of food, they are able to withstand more variable fluctuations in environmental conditions. With this being said, there are always exceptions. Our flock of Chilean flamingos can handle very low temperatures, but Cecil the cassowary, being from a tropical environment, is much less pleased in the cold. As the oldest male cassowary in the world, he is entitled to special treatment to keep him comfortable. We have birds, reptiles and amphibians from all around the world who have adapted to live in a wide variety of habitats. At the end of the day, whether in Birds, Herpetology, or Mammals, we do our best to ensure that all of our animals are getting the best possible care.
Gabriel Andrle
Keeper I, Birds


Why do endotherms need more food than ectotherms? - Biology

During torpor, arctic ground squirrels reduce their energy requirements by reducing their core body temperature and metabolic rate. Why would an active ground squirrel’s ATP synthesis also increase in proportion to metabolic rate when temperatures fall below 0°?

  1. Colder temperatures causes ATP to degrade.
  2. ATP is synthesized through cellular respiration, which provides body heat.
  3. ATP synthesis is needed to provide more oxygen to the cells.
  4. ATP is consumed by the cells to generate body heat.
  1. Hummingbirds have a fast metabolic rate and a large surface area to volume ratio.
  2. Hummingbirds are unable to lower their metabolic rate and body temperature to enter hibernation.
  3. Hummingbirds migrate south for the winter.
  4. Hummingbirds live a short life.
  1. Smaller animals can engage in torpor while larger animals cannot.
  2. Larger animals can engage in torpor while smaller animals cannot.
  3. Smaller animals cannot remain inactive throughout the entire winter while larger animals can.
  4. Larger animals cannot remain inactive throughout the entire winter while smaller animals can.
In the data, BM = body mass, CD = cool-down time WU = warm-up time, NBT = normal body temperature and BTH = body temperature during hibernation. What can you conclude from the data collected on five different animals as shown in the table above?
  1. The time it takes for animals to change body temperature is directly related to body size.
  2. The time it takes for animals to change their body temperature is indirectly related to their size.
  3. Larger animals hibernate for longer periods of time.
  4. Smaller animals hibernate for shorter periods of time

In the data, BM = body mass, CD = cool-down time WU = warm-up time, NBT = normal body temperature and BTH = body temperature during hibernation. What can you conclude from about the time it takes to cool down versus the time it takes to warm up?

  1. Larger animals consume more energy to maintain their body temperatures.
  2. Smaller animals can survive hibernation with less food reserves than larger animals.
  3. Smaller animals require more time to alter their body temperature.
  4. Larger animals require more time to alter their body temperature.
  1. During labor, the fetus exerts pressure on the uterine wall, inducing the production of oxytocin, which stimulates uterine wall contraction. The contractions cause the fetus to further push on the wall, increasing the production of oxytocin.
  2. After a meal, blood glucose levels become elevated, stimulating beta cells of the pancreas to release insulin into the blood. Excess glucose is then converted to glycogen in the liver, reducing blood glucose levels.
  3. At high elevation, atmospheric oxygen is scarcer. In response to signals that oxygen is low, the brain decreases an individual’s rate of respiration to compensate for the difference.
  4. A transcription factor binds to the regulating region of a gene, blocking the binding of another transcription factor required for expression.

This figure depicts the process of calcium homeostasis. Describe how blood calcium control is an example of a negative feedback loop.


Are humans Endotherms or Ectotherms?

Humans are endothermic organisms. This means that in contrast to the ectothermic (poikilothermic) animals such as fishes and reptiles, humans are less dependent on the external environmental temperature [6,7].

Secondly, are most animals Endotherms or Ectotherms? Endotherms and ectotherms. People, polar bears, penguins, and prairie dogs, like most other birds and mammals, are endotherms. Iguanas and rattlesnakes, like most other reptiles&mdashalong with most fishes, amphibians, and invertebrates&mdashare ectotherms. Endotherms generate most of the heat they need internally.

Just so, is human An Ectotherm?

You probably know that humans are warm-blooded, while creatures like snakes are cold-blooded. Snakes are ectothermic which means they're dependent on their environment for heat. Humans, on the other hand, are endothermic which means our body chemistry regulates our temperature and keeps it constant.

What is the difference between Ectotherms and Endotherms?

Ectotherms, including reptiles and amphibians, are organisms that don't possess the ability to generate sufficient heat to keep themselves warm. Endotherms, in contrast, do possess the ability to generate their own body heat.


What is an Ectotherm?

As mentioned above, an ectotherm is commonly called a &ldquocold-blooded&rdquo creature, and there are hundreds of thousands of ectothermic species. Unlike endotherms, &ldquowarm-blooded&rdquo animals, ectotherms are unable to increase their internal metabolic activity to boost heat production. They do produce some amount of metabolic heat, but not enough to completely fuel their body. Instead, they are at the whim of their external environment, relying on open spaces to soak up the sun, and also shaded areas to shield the creature from heat when it gets too hot outside.

cold-blooded reptiles, a crocodile or alligator, lizard, frill-necked lizard, poisonous frog, turtle, poisonous snake, chameleon, newt. (Photo Credit : Andrei Zhukov/ Shutterstock)

If you have ever seen a lizard lying lazily on a rock, you&rsquore witnessing a key element of ectothermy. This practice of &ldquobasking&rdquo allows the animals to directly soak up the heat of the sun and the heat of the rock beneath it. This will increase the creature&rsquos internal temperature to a comfortable point. There is usually a preferred range of temperature for ectotherms, but there is less rigidity in that range as there is for endotherms.

Generally, humans and other mammals and birds will maintain an internal temperature at all times for humans, this temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). Most other mammals range from 97-103 degrees Fahrenheit, while many birds are near 105 degrees. However, ectotherms around the world are able to survive in more extreme environments because if the temperature plummets by 40 degrees, their body temperatures will gradually fall to match it. Similarly, if the temperature spikes to 100 degrees, their temperature will do the same.

Consider a lizard in the Sahara Desert, where daytime temperatures may soar above 110 degrees, but once night falls, the temperature could plummet to a chilling 25 degrees. That lizard will be able to sun itself on a rock during the early morning sun, seek shade from the scorching noon heat, and then finally adjust its internal body temperature for a chilly evening. It makes for an unpredictable life, but a much more flexible one!


Test Prep for AP® Courses

During torpor, arctic ground squirrels reduce their energy requirements by reducing their core body temperature and metabolic rate. Why would an active ground squirrel’s ATP synthesis also increase in proportion to metabolic rate when temperatures fall below 0°?

  1. Colder temperatures causes ATP to degrade.
  2. ATP is synthesized through cellular respiration, which provides body heat.
  3. ATP synthesis is needed to provide more oxygen to the cells.
  4. ATP is consumed by the cells to generate body heat.
  1. Hummingbirds have a fast metabolic rate and a large surface area to volume ratio.
  2. Hummingbirds are unable to lower their metabolic rate and body temperature to enter hibernation.
  3. Hummingbirds migrate south for the winter.
  4. Hummingbirds live a short life.
  1. Smaller animals can engage in torpor while larger animals cannot.
  2. Larger animals can engage in torpor while smaller animals cannot.
  3. Smaller animals cannot remain inactive throughout the entire winter while larger animals can.
  4. Larger animals cannot remain inactive throughout the entire winter while smaller animals can.

In the data, BM = body mass, CD = cool-down time WU = warm-up time, NBT = normal body temperature and BTH = body temperature during hibernation. What can you conclude from the data collected on five different animals as shown in the table above?

  1. The time it takes for animals to change body temperature is directly related to body size.
  2. The time it takes for animals to change their body temperature is indirectly related to their size.
  3. Larger animals hibernate for longer periods of time.
  4. Smaller animals hibernate for shorter periods of time

In the data, BM = body mass, CD = cool-down time WU = warm-up time, NBT = normal body temperature and BTH = body temperature during hibernation.

What is a scientific claim that can be made using this data?

  1. Larger animals have a larger body temperature.
  2. It takes larger animals longer to change their body temperature.
  3. Animals that hibernate have similar body temperatures during hibernation.
  4. It takes smaller animals longer to warm up after hibernation.
  1. During labor, the fetus exerts pressure on the uterine wall, inducing the production of oxytocin, which stimulates uterine wall contraction. The contractions cause the fetus to further push on the wall, increasing the production of oxytocin.
  2. After a meal, blood glucose levels become elevated, stimulating beta cells of the pancreas to release insulin into the blood. Excess glucose is then converted to glycogen in the liver, reducing blood glucose levels.
  3. At high elevation, atmospheric oxygen is scarcer. In response to signals that oxygen is low, the brain decreases an individual’s rate of respiration to compensate for the difference.
  4. A transcription factor binds to the regulating region of a gene, blocking the binding of another transcription factor required for expression.

This figure depicts the process of calcium homeostasis. Describe how blood calcium control is an example of a negative feedback loop.

  1. Cells in parathyroid gland sense calcium decrease causing parathyroid hormone release and stimulating calcium absorption. Bone may also break down to release calcium.
  2. Cells in parathyroid gland sense calcium decrease causing calcitonin release and stimulating calcium absorption. Bone may also break down to release calcium.
  3. Cells in thyroid gland sense calcium decrease causing calcitonin release and stimulating calcium absorption. Bone may also break down to release calcium.
  4. Cells in parathyroid gland sense calcium increase causing parathyroid hormone release and stimulating calcium absorption. Bone may also break down to release calcium.
  1. When a fetus pushes against the uterine wall, insulin is released by the brain to stimulate uterine contractions.
  2. In the presence of decreased blood glucose levels, insulin is produced by the parathyroid to increase calcium absorption.
  3. Insulin activation activates other clotting factors until a fibrin clot is produced.
  4. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood glucose levels to remove glucose from the blood.
  1. When blood sugar is low, glucose and ATP produce glycogen. Excess blood sugar stimulates the release of glucagon, which in turn stimulates glycogen release to increase blood glucose levels.
  2. When there is excess blood sugar, excess glucose and ATP produce glucagon. A drop in blood glucose level stimulates the release of glycogen, which in turn stimulates glycogen release to increase blood glucose levels.
  3. When there is excess blood sugar, the excess glucose and ATP produce glycogen. A drop in blood glucose level stimulates the release of glucagon, which in turn stimulates the release of glycogen to increase blood glucose levels.
  4. When there is excess blood sugar, the excess glucose and ATP produce glycogen. A drop in blood glucose level stimulates the release of glucagon, which in turn releases more glucagon to increase blood glucose levels.
  1. The individual would have increased red blood cell production.
  2. The individual’s body would start destroying the red blood cells.
  3. The individual’s body would cease production of new red blood cells.
  4. The individual would produce the same amount of red blood cells.
  1. Insulin injections allow transport and storage of glucose to increase blood glucose levels after consuming a large or high-glucose meal.
  2. Insulin injections allow only storage of glucose to decrease blood glucose levels after consuming a large or high-glucose meal.
  3. Insulin injections allow transport and storage of glucose to increase blood glucose levels before consuming a meal.
  4. Insulin injections allow transport and storage of glucose to decrease blood glucose levels after consuming a large or high-glucose meal.
  1. Oxytocin halts uterine contractions when the fetus pushes on the uterine wall.
  2. Oxytocin maintains pain levels as the child is pushed through the birth canal.
  3. Oxytocin stimulates uterine contractions when the fetus pushes on the uterine wall.
  4. Oxytocin decreases pain levels as the child is pushed through the birth canal.
  1. Stretching stimulates nerve impulses to be sent to the brain, which releases oxytocin from the pituitary, which in turn causes uterine contractions.
  2. Stretching stimulates nerve impulses to be sent to the brain, which releases estrogen from the pituitary, which in turn causes uterine contractions.
  3. Stretching stimulates nerve impulses to be sent to the brain, which releases oxytocin from the parathyroid gland, which in turn causes uterine contractions.
  4. Stretching stimulates nerve impulses to be sent to the brain which releases progesterone from the pituitary, which in turn causes uterine contractions
  1. When body temperature gets too high, signals are sent to reduce body temperature.
  2. Increased blood glucose levels stimulate insulin production, which in turn sequesters glucose from the blood.
  3. Decreased calcium levels stimulate increased calcium absorption.
  4. Activation of one clotting factor stimulates production of other clotting factors until a fibrin clot is produced.
  1. Blood clotting is maintained by a positive feedback loop, as clotting is amplified in response by increasing the amount of clotting factors when clotting factors are present.
  2. Blood clotting is maintained by a positive feedback loop, as clotting factors are maintained in a specific range and a positive loop helps return the conditions to the set point.
  3. Blood calcium is maintained by a positive feedback loop, as calcium levels are amplified in response by increasing the amount of calcium levels when calcium is present.
  4. Blood calcium is maintained by a positive feedback loop, as calcium levels are maintained in a specific range and a positive feedback loop helps return the conditions to the set point.

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    • Book title: Biology for AP® Courses
    • Publication date: Mar 8, 2018
    • Location: Houston, Texas
    • Book URL: https://openstax.org/books/biology-ap-courses/pages/1-introduction
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    Critical Thinking Questions

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    Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book is Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 and you must attribute OpenStax.

      If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:

    • Use the information below to generate a citation. We recommend using a citation tool such as this one.
      • Authors: Julianne Zedalis, John Eggebrecht
      • Publisher/website: OpenStax
      • Book title: Biology for AP® Courses
      • Publication date: Mar 8, 2018
      • Location: Houston, Texas
      • Book URL: https://openstax.org/books/biology-ap-courses/pages/1-introduction
      • Section URL: https://openstax.org/books/biology-ap-courses/pages/37-critical-thinking-questions

      © Jan 12, 2021 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 license. The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.


      Ectotherms vs Endotherms

      The difference between Ectotherms and Endotherms is that the Ectotherms are organisms (including reptiles and amphibians) that cannot generate heat by themselves, due to which they are dependent upon the environment. Whereas, on the other hand, Endotherms are the organisms that possess the ability to keep themselves warm, without any external assistance.


      Why do endotherms need more food than ectotherms? - Biology

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      This text is based on Openstax Biology for AP Courses, Senior Contributing Authors Julianne Zedalis, The Bishop's School in La Jolla, CA, John Eggebrecht, Cornell University Contributing Authors Yael Avissar, Rhode Island College, Jung Choi, Georgia Institute of Technology, Jean DeSaix, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vladimir Jurukovski, Suffolk County Community College, Connie Rye, East Mississippi Community College, Robert Wise, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

      This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Unported License, with no additional restrictions


      Watch the video: Ectotherms and Endotherms (August 2022).