While surface grows quadratically with scale, volume growth is cubic. Temperature exchange (gain and loss) of animals is mostly dependant on surface area (the more area, the faster) whereas heat generation is largely dependant on mass / volume. For warm blooded animals, this implies that specimen in colder climates are usually larger than members of the same species in warmer climates, in order to lose less heat relative to their heat generation.

I'd expect cold blooded animals to approach the environmental temperature faster if they were smaller, having a more suitable surface-to-volume ratio. This obviously is of advantage when warming up, but should be as much of a disadvantage when cooling down. So how does surface-to-volume ratio matter for cold blooded species?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think you understand "zero sum game". $\endgroup$
    – mgkrebbs
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ mgkrebbs: What do you mean by that? The point is that while warm blooded species have something to gain by being of larger size, I wonder whether the same is the case for a cold blooded one. Granted, if this was to be a game, who are the players you may ask - and I could only give a rather unprecise answer; so indeed, I'll rephrase. $\endgroup$
    – Luatic
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ large size usually offers a gain in savings on food and water needs. 1 elephant eats less than 1 elephant weights worth of mice. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 21:17
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    $\begingroup$ I am a little confused about what you mean in terms of advantage/disadvantage with regard to warming up/cooling down. It seems like it would depend a lot on the environment and the organism in question? Perhaps an illustrative example might help. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 19:24


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