Several studies have used Hertz et al.’s (Am Nat. 1993) method of evaluating the precision of thermoregulation in field-active ectothermic animals.
Describe this method and critically consider what these studies have demonstrated.
Temperature determines the rate of most biochemical and physiological functions, and therefore, studies of thermoregulation have played a central role in biological investigations ectotherms (Huey 1982). Early studies in this field described an array of thermoregulatory behaviours and a continuum from thermoconformity (passively following ambient fluctuations) to strict stenothermy (regulation at constant temperatures). Studies of thermoregulation by reptiles span the fields of community ecology, physiological ecology, and physiology (Heath 1964, Huey and Slatkin 1976, Bartholomew 1982, Huey 1982, 1991, Tracy and Christian 1986, Peterson 1987, Hertz 1992a, b). Some of the central questions related to thermoregulation have also been among the most elusive, partly because the question of how carefully an animal thermoregulate is actually a suite of questions (Hertz et al. 1993). To address these questions requires an integration of an animal's thermoregulatory behaviour, the availability of thermal opportunities, and the physiological and morphological properties that allow an animal to exploit its thermal environment (Hertz et al. 1993).
Professor Paul Hertz has spent his working life has been dedicated to developing ideas for animal physiology and reptile ecology. He has developed many methods for studying ectotherms and to find the best way to quantify the accuracy of thermoregulation and the environmental constraints on thermoregulation, and the effectiveness of thermoregulation given the environmental constraints. Hertz et al. (1993) was a landmark in the study of reptile thermoregulation and is widely used and has become the standard method for the way that researchers measure thermoregulation in many reptile species.