Ecothermic organisms have body temperatures that vary with the temperature of their surroundings. Why?
Discuss the effect this variation might have on the functioning of enzymes in these organisms. Suggest some ways ectothermic organisms might cope with this problem.
Many enzymes perform either better or worse depending on various environmental factors, including temperature. Most Endotherms (who control their body temperatures) have an advantage with their enzyme control in that the enzymes can be specialized to a particular temperature, say 98.6 degrees in humans. This allows endotherms to have highly specialized and productive enzymes.
However, ectothermic organisms body temperatures do vary, and enzyme performance is affected most notably by colder temperatures. Anyone who has uncovered a lizard under a rock on a cold day can tell you that the lizard's muscles respond much more sluggishly. This is in part due to the enzymes poor performance.
Ectothermic organisms cope with this problem by altering their behavior patterns to coincide with optimum temperatures. They are active during optimum temperature times in the day, and tend towards inactivity when it is either too cold or too hot for their enzymes to function at peak performance.