Does Change in an Organism’s Environmental Temperature Directly Correlate to its Metabolic Rate?

Madeline West, Garrett Sill, Darryl Walker, Jeremy Kaplan


Metabolic rate is the rate at which metabolism occurs in a living organism. This rate can vary based on the environmental temperature an organism exists in, with regard to their thermal neutral zone. Mammals, commonly found to be more active in lower temperatures, are more likely to have a higher metabolic rate in cooler temperatures, allowing them to maintain thermoregulation when outside of their thermal neutral zone. Previous work has concluded that exposure of rats to a cold environment results in an increased rate of oxygen consumption (Sellers, 651). What they failed to address is the thermal neutral zone of their test subjects, as well as the effects of a heated environment on their metabolic rate. We tested our hypothesis in a controlled lab setting using sterile, white lab mice. We found that the metabolic rate of the mice in room temperature environments was higher than the rate in, both, heated and cooled environments. While the metabolic rate in the cooled environments was higher than the rate produced in the heated environments, the P-value, found in our Anova, concluded that our results occurred by chance alone. This is due to the similarity of the temperature in our testing environments and the thermal neutral zone of the mice. In this investigation, we studied the ability of an organism to thermo-regulate in temperatures outside of its thermal neutral zone and how it correlates to their metabolic rate. 

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