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What Are Adaptations?

Adaptations are inheritable characteristics that increase an organism's ability to survive and reproduce in an environment. Adaptations can help an organism find food and water, protect itself, or manage in extreme environments. Adaptations develop gradually over long periods of time and through many generations of the species. Individuals with characteristics that are advantageous are usually the survivors who live on to reproduce and contribute offspring to future generations.

Physical adaptations are body structures that help an organism find and consume food and water, protect itself, cope with tough environments, and reproduce. Click on the plus sign on each image to read examples of physical adaptations.

Behavioral adaptations are actions an organism takes to survive. Click on the plus sign on each image to read examples of behavioral adaptations.

Directions: Watch Animal Adaptations to see adaptations of three different animals that live in three very different environments.

Animal Adaptations
Source: 
lmiller23elon. Animal Adaptations. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRX2JtKFUzk&feature=youtu.be

Adaptations of Plants and Animals in Different World Biomes

An organism's adaptations for survival will vary depending on the environment it lives in. Watch Desert Survivors to see some examples of adaptations specific to the desert ecosystem.

Desert Survivors
Source: 
winzenriedk. Desert Survivors. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/ZgKw7Ne_MA0

World Biomes

Scientists divide the world's major land environments into different biomes. Biomes are characterized by abiotic factors such as climate and geography and by biotic factors such as plant and animal species. Let's explore the different adaptations of plants and animals living in each major land biome. 

Directions: Click on the plus sign on each image to learn more about the biome shown and the plants and animals that have adapted to survive there.

Check Your Understanding

Directions: Take a look at the physical and behavioral adaptations of three different types of squirrels—the antelope squirrel, the Douglas squirrel, and the Barbary squirrel. Predict which ecosystem each squirrel is best adapted tothe  grassland, the desert, or the forest . After you have made your predictions, drag and drop your predictions to the correct ecosystem to check your answers.

    Utahcamera , Antelope Squirrel, Wikimedia Commons

Physical Adaptations:
Active mostly late at night or early morning, antelope squirrels have adapted the ability to lower their body temperatures to withstand extremely hot environments.

Behavioral Adaptations:
Antelope squirrels become less active when food is scarce to preserve energy.

 

 


    Walter Siegmund, Douglas Squirrel, Wikimedia Commons

Physical Adaptations:
Active most of the day, Douglas squirrels have adapted sharp claws that make them great climbers.

Behavioral Adaptations:
Douglas squirrels collect nuts mid-to-late summer in preparation for the winter.


   Wo st 01, Barbary Ground Squirrel, Wikimedia Commons

Physical Adaptations:
Active mostly in evenings or early mornings, Barbary squirrels have adapted long, bushy tails to blend in to their environment.

Behavioral Adaptations:
Barbary squirrels generally build their nests or burrows by a water source and usually do not travel far to avoid predators.

 

 

Source: 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antelope_squirrel#/media/File:White_Tailed_Squirrel.jpg; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tamiasciurus_douglasii_4435.JPG; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2012-05-04_Fuerteventura_Atlantoxerus_Getulus_02.jpg

Directions: In your hard copy of the OnTRACK Biology Journal, predict the types of adaptations each organism might have for life in their particular biome. After you make your predictions, click to see descriptions of adaptations for each organism and take notes in your journal.

Journal Activity