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The Circulatory System of Emperor Penguins

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The Circulatory System of Emperor Penguins Essay

The Thermoregulatory system is used to regulate the internal body temperature. The level at which the body is regulated to is called Homeostasis this is state where the body is at its equilibrium. Some of the main components of the thermoregulatory system are the skin (feathers), cardiovascular system, and the brain. The Emperor Penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) are Endotherms, meaning they produce heat internally in spite of the environmental temperatures. Their core body temperature ranges between 35-41 degrees Celsius.

Emperor penguins are found in Antarctica their surrounding environment temperature ranges between -60 to 0 degrees. Their thermoregulatory system is a key aspect of their survival as without it they would not be able to live through harsh climate of Antarctica. The feathers of an Emperor penguin play a very important role in thermoregulation. The scale-like feathers provides insulation and protection to the penguin from the outside environment. During the cold winter months the Penguins ruffle out their feathers to trap heat and provide insulation to the body.

Apart from layers of feathers, Emperor penguins have a range of adaptive advantages that allow them to minimize heat loss throughout the breeding season. Emperor penguin has the ability to reuse some of their body heat. Their nasal chambers can regain up to 80% of the warmth that can be lost during exhaling. This means Emperor Penguins don’t have to use as much energy to regain heat and regulate their core body temperature. Emperor Penguins also have very special feet. To minimize contact on the ice Emperor penguins constantly stand on their durable feet that have strong claws that are used to help the penguins grip the ice to prevent slipping. The minimal contact on the ice means that the Penguins are not losing too much heat. During cold temperatures, blood flow to the feet is low, decreasing heat loss.

The circulatory system of emperor penguin also helps them maintain thermoregulation and homeostasis. Their arteries and veins are in close proximity to each other, therefore blood is cooled on the way to the penguins extremities and warmed back up on the way to the penguins heart. The nervous system works in conjunction with the endocrine system to control the body and maintain homeostasis. The autonomic nervous system works with the circulatory system to control how open and closed blood vessels are which allows heat to either be released from the body or for the body to warm up. The nervous system also can allow the penguin to gain extra heat from muscle movement e.g shivering.

Keeping cool: During summer (December to February) Emperor Penguins are at risk of overheating. Penguins temperature may rise above 39 degrees Celsius. Penguins can lose heat through many means to help maintain thermoregulation and homeostasis. Emperor penguins can vigorously ruffle their feathers which breaks apart insulation layers allowing heat to escape. The ruffling of the feathers is caused by the nervous system working to help maintain a stable internal temperature which is needed for homeostasis. Emperor Penguins can also lose heat by keeping their flippers and feet away from their body and exposed to the air allowing heat to escape. When the environmental temperature is warm, blood flow to the feet of the emperor penguins is high, allowing heat to escape and meaning the core body temperature of the Penguin can be kept stable.

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The circulatory system of Emperor penguins. (2019, February 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from
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