Surface Area-To-Volume Ratio: A Study In Heat Dissipation Relative to Body and Appendage Siz

Madison Keitges, Courtney Lubbers, Leah Hall, Abigail Grathwohl, Scott Goeppner


While studying Allen and Bergmann’s Rules, we discovered a gap in information on whether it was body size or appendage size that affects heat loss. We hypothesize that both do affect heat loss in a variety of clay models and that this is due to surface areato-volume ratios and appendage size (Nudds and Oswald 2007). Using clay bodies in two different sizes, and clay ears in two different sizes we heated them and used a temperature probe to measure the heat dissipation. The results were consistent with our hypothesis, all except one model which had a relatively small mass and small appendages. The dissipation rates of the bigger models were significantly slower than those of the smaller models and the variation of the appendage size provided adequate support to the theory of surface area-to-volume ratio; however, the models with small ears did not support our hypothesis. If all of the models were altered to have bigger masses, our data may have been more supportive of our hypothesis.  This insinuation is due to the fact that all of our models, even the bigger bodies, had relatively fast heat dissipation rates. Therefore, by increasing the mass of the models, the dissipation rates may slow down and provide more consistent results.

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