In biology, kleptothermy is any form of thermoregulation by which an animal shares in the metabolic thermogenesis of another animal. It may or may not be reciprocal, and occurs in both endotherms and ectotherms.[1] One of its forms is huddling. However, kleptothermy can happen between different species that share the same habitat, and can also happen in pre-hatching life where embryos are able to detect thermal changes in the environment.

This process requires two major conditions: the thermal heterogeneity created by the presence of a warm organism in a cool environment in addition to the use of that heterogeneity by another animal to maintain body temperatures at higher (and more stable) levels than would be possible elsewhere in the local area.[2] The purpose of this behaviour is to enable these groups to increase its thermal inertia, retard heat loss and/or reduce the per capita metabolic expenditure needed to maintain stable body temperatures.[2]

Kleptothermy is seen in cases where ectotherms regulate their own temperatures and exploit the high and constant body temperatures exhibited by endothermic species.[2] In this case, the endotherms involved are not only mammals and birds; they can be termites that maintain high and constant temperatures within their mounds where they provide thermal regimes that are exploited by a wide array of lizards, snakes and crocodilians.[citation needed] However, many cases of kleptothermy involve ectotherms sheltering inside the burrows used by endotherms to help maintain a high a constant body temperature.[2]

  1. ^ The Royal Society. Kleptothermy: an additional category of thermoregulation, and a possible example in sea kraits (Laticauda laticaudata, Serpentes)
  2. ^ a b c d Brischoux, François; Bonnet, Xavier; Shine, Richard (2009). "Kleptothermy: An additional category of thermoregulation, and a possible example in sea kraits (Laticauda laticaudata, Serpentes)". Biology Letters. 5 (6): 729–731. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2009.0550. PMC 2828009. PMID 19656862.

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