Animal's Surface Area: Does Size Really Matter?

Clark Crotty, Jennifer Dotson, Colin Currie, Justin Agan


In this experiment the rate in which the temperature (in degrees C) changed was tested within a small piece of clay and a large piece of clay. This experiment was conducted in order to understand the reasoning behind an animal’s shape and size compared to the environment in which it lives (French 2014). There has been some controversy for the reasoning behind this difference in shape between the two climates. A popular explanation to this difference is that as an animal’s body mass gets larger its surface area to volume ratio in turn gets smaller, which allows heat to be retained (Pincheira-Donoso et al., 2008). In order to reach a conclusion for the reasoning behind the differences in body length and mass between animals in different climates, we subjected two clay cubes to a heating pad for a period of time to see the changes between the two cubes’ internal temperature. This procedure was conducted to further research on this debatable topic because it is important to understand how the surface area to volume ratio affects an animal’s thermoregulation for their particular environment due to the fact that it could alter an animal’s metabolic rates (Phillips and Heath, 1994). Through this experiment it was found that there was a difference in the rate a small cube gained heat when compared to the larger cube. The smaller cube (as seen through figure 1.1 and 1.2) gained heat at a faster rate. 

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