Maintaining Homeostasis: Importance & Examples

Instructor: Ebony Potts

Ebony has taught middle and high school physical science, life science & biology. She's also been an assistant principal and has a doctorate in educational administration.

Have you ever heard of the term 'homeostasis'? In this lesson you will learn the definition of homeostasis and discover why maintaining it is so important to the life of any organism.

Just What is Perfection?

Have you ever looked at a shiny, aerodynamic car with nice tires and a powerful engine and thought, ''Wow, what a perfect car!'' How about a piece of jewelry, more specifically a diamond? Have you ever been to a high-end jewelry shop and seen the price of what a jeweler would call a diamond without any imperfections? Just what does it mean to be perfect? Why are some people willing to pay so much for what is perceived as perfect, and why is being perfect such a big deal? Since this is a biological science lesson, we will not try to answer these questions from a sociological standpoint, but a biological one. Is there such perfection in biology for any one organism? There is, and it's called homeostasis.

Homeostasis - Biological Perfection

Think about sitting with a group of friends outside in the winter. You might notice that some of your friends are wearing heavy coats, while others are wearing a sweater. A few may feel comfortable in just a long sleeve shirt. What an amazing variety in comfort levels as far as temperature is concerned! What about if you and that same group went into a restaurant and each ordered a dish? Some of your friends might finish their entire meal while the others end up with leftovers. Again, a variety in preferences will be evident. This variety is present within a species for many different factors.The ideal temperature, types and amounts of food, types of shelter, and amount of water needed are all factors that vary from one individual to the next. They differ as well between species. What does not vary much is the perfect range of these factors to maintain the health of the organism. All organisms have a range in which they are able to maintain internal equilibrium, its best set of internal conditions. It is within this range that every organism prefers to stay. This range is called homeostasis. Homeostasis is an organism's realm of biological perfection, its body's oasis. When an organism is in homeostasis it functions at its best, mentally and physically. Unfortunately, an organism rarely stays within this 'oasis' very long given all the factors important to its survival.

Homeostasis- A Constant Fight

Every organism is in a constant fight to maintain homeostasis, and it is not an easy task. The body of most organisms constantly struggles against its external environment to maintain a stable internal environment. The ideal conditions for that organism often don't match its external environment. Thus, the organism has to expend energy to retain its ideal conditions. There are many factors that go into keeping an organism alive. Let's use humans as an example. All day long your body gives you signals that help keep it as close to the state of homeostasis as possible. You body must maintain a specific temperature, a certain energy level, and a specific level of water. It needs to maintain other factors as well, but we will focus on these three.

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