The Difference Between an Animal that is A Regulator and One that is A Conformer


Homeostasis is a tendency of a living body to acquire a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes. It is a self-regulating process by which biological systems tend to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival. With the help of homeostasis, animals can regulate their internal temperature to maintain a constant, stable condition. The stability attained by homeostasis is actually a state of dynamic equilibrium, in which continuous change occurs yet relatively uniform conditions prevail.

There are two ways in which living entities can achieve the equilibrium in their internal environment- By conforming their internal temperature to the external temperature. Or, by regulating their internal temperature.

Conformers and Regulators

Thus, based on how the organisms behave to the changes in their surroundings, they are classified as-

  • Conformers- The body of the organism depends upon the changes in its external environment.

  • Regulators- The organisms are capable of controlling their internal environment irrespective of their external surroundings to an extent.


  • These animals are also called ectotherms which means, organisms that depend on external sources of body heat as they cannot regulate their body temperature as per the variations in the external temperature. They must change their environment to survive temperature variations.

  • They adapt their behavior to the surroundings or migrate to environments with optimal temperatures. Conformers are also referred to as cold-blooded animals. Examples of conformers are – amphibians, reptiles, fishes, insects, etc.

  • Most conformers engage in behavior to regulate their temperature, such as basking in the sun for warmth or retreating underground or into the water to cool because they cannot regulate their internal temperature.

  • This behavior is seen in reptiles and many insects as they find sunny places and adopt positions that maximize their exposure to heat and at harmfully high temperatures, they seek shade or cooler water.

  • Extreme temperature changes may prove to be fatal for conformers. This can be elucidated from the examples of fishes. When fishes are exposed to great heat, their bodies work harder to get oxygen from water, which in turn results in a greater need for oxygen.

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  • These animals are also called endotherms which means, animals that depend on the internal heat generation for survival. These organisms can regulate their body temperature as per the variations in the external temperature to some extent.

  • They are also referred to as warm-blooded animals or the animals that can generate body heat.

  • These animals control their body temperature in spite of their surroundings. Examples of such animals are mostly mammals including human beings and birds.

  • Regulators or warm-blooded animals occupy a greater diversity of ecological niches than conformers.

  • This regulation of body temperature requires a significant amount of energy and that’s why consume more food and possess a higher metabolism rate.

  • Regulators rely on sweating, panting, or opening their mouths when they need to cool down and they shiver and increase their metabolism when to remain warm.

  • Regulators depend on altruistic social contact to keep warm in cold conditions. For this, they huddle together over newborn pups to keep them warm. Example- Penguins.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the impacts of Climate Change on Regulators and Conformers?

Ans. Both regulators and conformers get affected by climatic changes. Temperature variations affect their longevity and aging. It is found that animals living in cool climates live longer. And an increase in temperature over time affects the lifespans of animals. This is because, at low temperatures, enzymes become inhibited, but in high temperatures, respiratory and circulatory systems struggle to meet oxygen demand. This negatively affects protein structure and function, membrane fluidity, and gene expression. Thus, resulting in accelerated biochemical pathways resulting in a higher rate of metabolism. All of these make the animals more prone to diseases.

On the other hand, in colder climates, the neuroendocrine processes resulting from low temperatures are correlated to slower aging and longer life span. Therefore, animals, be it regulators or conformers, face challenges with regard to climate change.

2.  List the differences between Regulators and Conformers.




They show homeostasis to some extent.

They show comparatively lesser homeostasis.

They are capable of generating internal heat.

They are not capable of generating internal heat.

Due to internal heat generation, they can regulate their body temperature.

They must change their body temperature according to their surroundings

They are also called endotherms or warm-blooded animals.

They are also called ectotherms or cold-blooded animals.

Organisms in this group are more active.

Organisms in this group are less active.

They are widely distributed in the ecosystem.

Their distribution is narrow as compared to regulators.

They have a fixed osmotic concentration in the body fluids.

The osmotic concentration of body fluids of these animals fluctuates depending on the external medium.

More energy is expended to maintain constancy

Less amount of energy is expended in order to maintain constancy

Examples- Mammals, birds, etc.

Examples- Reptiles, insects, amphibians, fishes, etc.