The recent meeting of the Society for Low Temperature Biology took place at the home of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. There were many interesting presentation and posters - several featuring Planer freezers.

One of the advantages of the Society is that it allows researchers from different countries, angles and disciplines to meet and discuss temperature in the widest sense. One such is Andrew Clarke, Emeritus Fellow of The British Antarctic Survey and who has recently written a book on the Principles of Thermal Ecology. Temperature affects everything and as air or water warm or cool, they change in density, viscosity, solubility of gases and solids, ionisation etc.  All of these changes affect organisms, and this often complex mixture of direct and indirect effects means that temperature exerts a powerful influence over what organisms can and cannot do. The book provides looks at three themes - broadly the physics of temperature, temperature and physiology, and temperature and ecology describing the implications of climate change for the earth's biota.

After graduating from Cambridge University Andrew joined the British Antarctic Survey and spent the next 40 years working in South Georgia, the South Orkney Islands, the Antarctic Peninsula, and the Antarctic continent and his main ecological interests centre on how animals and plants relate to temperature; he has written over 180 scientific papers and this book summarises a lifetime of experience in the field. 

The book has short introductions to the physics of energy, heat and temperature, and then discusses the unusual nature of water and the physiological challenge of freezing.  The bulk of the book deals with the influence of temperature on physiology, particularly metabolism and growth, the evolution of endothermy  - the maintenance of a high internal body temperature by mammals and birds, hibernation etc. and ends with a discussion of climate change and how it affects organisms in general. 

 For further information:
Principles of Thermal Ecology: Temperature, Energy and Life


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