Effects of Surface Area to Volume Ratio on Thermoregulation Abilities of Clay Badgers

Carlee Luttrell, Mark Matli, Perry Serna, Michael Cobbs


The concept that surface area to volume ratio of an animal may determine the climate in which it lives is commonly debated among scientists. Several rules, such as Bergmanns’ and Allens’, attempt to answer why animals are shaped and sized differently in varying climates. Bergmann’s Rule relates endotherms size with the climate conditions in which they live such that larger species will live in cooler climates and smaller species live in warmer climates (Meiri and Dayan, 2003). Allen’s Rule attempts to answer this phenomenon by explaining appendage length relative to body size. The varying appendage length is affecting the surface area to volume ratio (Nudds and Oswald, 2007). Both of these rules are commonly refuted because of the variability of animals and affecting factors. An experiment was conducted to investigate these rules within subspecies of badgers based on size and the surface area to volume ratio. Although we could not experiment on badgers, we tested this rule on representative clay balls. This manuscript expressses one experiment repeated three times, monitoring internal temperatures fluctuations as clay balls were heated and cooled. As the surface area to volume ratio effects the clay balls thermoregulation it is suspected to have the same effect on subspecies of badgers. This would explain the varying sizes and shapes of these animals.

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