The Thermal Warriors

The Thermal Warriors

by Bernd Heinrich
     
 

All bodily activity is the result of the interplay of vastly complex physiological processes, and all of these processes depend on temperature. For insects, the struggle to keep body temperature within a suitable range for activity and competition is often a matter of life and death.

A few studies of temperature regulation in butterflies can be found dating back

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Overview

All bodily activity is the result of the interplay of vastly complex physiological processes, and all of these processes depend on temperature. For insects, the struggle to keep body temperature within a suitable range for activity and competition is often a matter of life and death.

A few studies of temperature regulation in butterflies can be found dating back to the late 1800s, but only recently have scientists begun to study the phenomenon in other insects. In The Thermal Warriors Bernd Heinrich explains how, when, and in general what insects regulate their body temperature and what it means to them. As he shows us, the ingenuity of the survival strategies insects have evolved in the irreducible crucible of temperature is astonishing: from shivering and basking, the construction of turrets (certain tiger beetles), and cooling with liquid feces to stilting (some desert ants and beetles), "panting" in grasshoppers and "sweating cicada," and counter- and alternating-currents of blood flow for heat retention and heat loss.

In The Thermal Warriors Heinrich distills his great reference work, The Hot-Blooded Insects, to its essence: the most significant and fascinating stories that illustrate general principles, all conveyed in the always engaging prose we have come to expect from this author.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
We humans are warm-blooded and thus rarely face a temperature crisis, unless we get stranded in a snow storm or suffer some other such misfortune. For insects, however, temperature control is a ceaseless and crucial matter because such small creatures gain and lose heat far more rapidly than we large ones do. The smallest insects are adapted to exist at the ambient temperature of their specialized habitat, whether it be desert heat or glacial cold. But larger insects, particularly those that fly, heat and cool themselves by a variety of means, including basking, shelter construction, shivering, sweating, and blood-circulation control and so are able to function over a wider temperature range than small insects do. Heinrich (biology, Univ. of Vermont) presents a fascinating review of the strange world of insect thermoregulation, describing beetles that walk on long legs to escape the heat of the desert sand and larvae that cool themselves by spreading rectal fluid on their bodies. Gifted with the rare ability to communicate complex information in simple, clear language, he summarizes the main points covered in his larger, more technical work, The Hot-Blooded Insects (LJ 4/15/93), and includes recent developments on the subject. This book will appeal to both informed lay readers and scholars and is appropriate for all larger science collections.Annette Aiello, Smithsonian Tropical Research Inst., Panama

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674883406
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
10/28/1996
Pages:
238
Product dimensions:
6.27(w) x 9.26(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Bernd Heinrich is Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of Vermont. He has written several memoirs of his life in science and nature, including One Man’s Owl, and Ravens in Winter. Bumblebee Economics was twice a nominee for the American Book Award in Science, and A Year in the Maine Woods won the 1995 Rutstrum Authors’ Award for Literary Excellence.

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