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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Define homeostasis
  • Describe the factors affecting homeostasis
  • Discuss positive and negative feedback mechanisms used in homeostasis
  • Describe thermoregulation of endothermic and ectothermic animals

Animal organs and organ systems constantly adjust to internal and external changes through a process called homeostasis (“steady state”). These changes might be in the level of glucose or calcium in blood or in external temperatures. Homeostasis means to maintain dynamic equilibrium in the body. It is dynamic because it is constantly adjusting to the changes that the body’s systems encounter. It is equilibrium because body functions are kept within specific ranges. Even an animal that is apparently inactive is maintaining this homeostatic equilibrium.

Homeostatic process

The goal of homeostasis is the maintenance of equilibrium around a point or value called a set point    . While there are normal fluctuations from the set point, the body’s systems will usually attempt to go back to this point. A change in the internal or external environment is called a stimulus and is detected by a receptor; the response of the system is to adjust the deviation parameter toward the set point. For instance, if the body becomes too warm, adjustments are made to cool the animal. If the blood’s glucose rises after a meal, adjustments are made to lower the blood glucose level by getting the nutrient into tissues that need it or to store it for later use.

Control of homeostasis

When a change occurs in an animal’s environment, an adjustment must be made. The receptor senses the change in the environment, then sends a signal to the control center (in most cases, the brain) which in turn generates a response that is signaled to an effector. The effector is a muscle (that contracts or relaxes) or a gland that secretes. Homeostatsis is maintained by negative feedback loops. Positive feedback loops actually push the organism further out of homeostasis, but may be necessary for life to occur. Homeostasis is controlled by the nervous and endocrine system of mammals.

Negative feedback mechanisms

Any homeostatic process that changes the direction of the stimulus is a negative feedback loop    . It may either increase or decrease the stimulus, but the stimulus is not allowed to continue as it did before the receptor sensed it. In other words, if a level is too high, the body does something to bring it down, and conversely, if a level is too low, the body does something to make it go up. Hence the term negative feedback. An example is animal maintenance of blood glucose levels. When an animal has eaten, blood glucose levels rise. This is sensed by the nervous system. Specialized cells in the pancreas sense this, and the hormone insulin is released by the endocrine system. Insulin causes blood glucose levels to decrease, as would be expected in a negative feedback system, as illustrated in [link] . However, if an animal has not eaten and blood glucose levels decrease, this is sensed in another group of cells in the pancreas, and the hormone glucagon is released causing glucose levels to increase. This is still a negative feedback loop, but not in the direction expected by the use of the term “negative.” Another example of an increase as a result of the feedback loop is the control of blood calcium. If calcium levels decrease, specialized cells in the parathyroid gland sense this and release parathyroid hormone (PTH), causing an increased absorption of calcium through the intestines and kidneys and, possibly, the breakdown of bone in order to liberate calcium. The effects of PTH are to raise blood levels of the element. Negative feedback loops are the predominant mechanism used in homeostasis.

Questions & Answers

what diseases and mode of sickness it causes and vector
Biola Reply
what is Biology
Sheku Reply
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Abel
biology is the study of life basically
Ajipha
bio means life and logy means study
Biola
what is biology?
William Reply
the study of living things
Joe
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Mirabel Reply
what are hormones
Mirabel
what is meant by th word photosynthesis
MARTHA Reply
it is the process where by chloropherious plant manufacture their food with the presence of sunlight , chlorophyll and water etc.
Kosoe
it is the process by which green plant manufacture their food through sunlight and water ,chlorophyll.
Biola
what is biology
stallon Reply
is the study living things
Zhayma
and non living things
Zhayma
what is water circle?
Faith Reply
please i asks whether this biology is for university
Sky Reply
for secondary
stallon
Copulation means coming together of male and female in the present of sexual Intercourse.
LEKAN Reply
what are the adaptive features of nervous system
Ridhwan
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Adusei Reply
What is cell division?
Adusei
What is copulation?
Adusei
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qaisar
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qaisar
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Ridhwan
what is a metaborism
Beatrice Reply
this is a specialized part of the cell eg Nucleus
David Reply
what are adaptive features of nervous system
Ridhwan
what are the organelles?
Faith Reply
what is reproduction
mana Reply
reproduction is the process by which living organisms give rise to young ones of their own kind
Miriam
What is evolution
Wengelawit
the production of new forms of life over time as documented in the fossil record.
mana
hmm
Marvin
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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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