Adaptation by Animals to different Environments, Biology tutorial


An adaptation is a genetically controlled feature which increases the fitness of an organism, that is, a characteristic which improves an organism's chance of reproduction. Note that adaptation doesn't increase an organism's chance of surviving as it is at times wrongly stated. In most of the species, it is adaptive for the adults to die soon after finishing reproduction. Adaptation might be structural, physiological and behavioral.

Morphological Adaptation:

1) Aquatic animals:

The animals in this adaptation here live in water. They possess different adaptive features and these comprise:

a) The growth of a streamline shape in active swimmers such as fish, which offer minimum resistance to water currents, in such a way that they can be carried simply by water or move devoid of hindrance. To maintain buoyancy, a few encompass flattened bodies having bristle hair which trap air.

b) Some contain flattened bodies example: bivalve, stonefly and mayfly nymphs. These facilitate them to hide beneath stones and avoid the water currents.

c) The possession of suitable organs like external gills in tadpoles and a few adults' amphibians; internal gills and air and swim/gas bladders example: fish. Air breathing forms come up periodically to water surface to breath; they encompass the capability to stay beneath water for long periods of time. Their blood pigments have high affinity for oxygen than animals in non-stressful environments example: whales and seals possess lungs, as well snails like Limnaea and Planorbis. They come up to the water surface to breath. Mosquito larvae contain breathing trumpets which expand above water surface.

d) Aquatic animal have locomotor organs like strong tails and fins, and well-developed muscles example: fish tadpoles and seal. A few have webbed toes example: ducks and frog.

e) Some contain feeding apparatus which strain food particles, example: head-nets of simulium Skates and whales filter phytoplanktons from water currents in their muscle bars; gill rakers and gills are employed in fish and bivalves, for the similar purpose correspondingly.

f) Carnivores encompass strong jaws for capturing smaller animals in water example: sharks. Suctorial mouth of lamprey for cutting off small pieces of flesh from the host.

g) Well-developed sense organs for food detection and for moving in water example: lateral line system in fish to notice sound, vibration and movements in the water. Some encompass large eyes, example: skates and rays, whales and deep sea-dwellers where it is enduringly dark; as well nostrils and exterior ears.

2) Terrestrial Animals:

These are the animals which live on land. Their adaptative features comprise:

a) Highly developed sense organs like ears, eyes, sensitive skin and so on. These are employed to detect enemies and food.

b) They too possess well developed inner organs, like lungs and respiratory tracts, example: spiracle and trachea in the insects, lung hooks in spiders and muscles of birds.

c) Well-developed supporting skeletal system and limbs for the movement.

d) Have fore limbs and hind limbs as in amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals, example: lizards, rats, toads, cats, dogs and so on. Fleet-footed ones comprise antelopes, horses, wolves, hooves of horses and so on facilitate them to move freely to find out food, shelter, water and mate. Musv are well developed to help movement.

5) In birds, the bones are hollowed and encompass big air spaces to decrease weight throughout the flight. Feathers give excellent insulation. Lack of glands in the skin conserves heat loss through evaporation.

6) Some animals posses scales, example: lizards to avoid loss of water, insects have adopted different mouths appropriate for different kind of feeding habits example: biting and sucking mouth parts.

7) Monkeys have build up long tails and modified feet for holding and climbing, bees have stinging apparatus for protection and so on.

8) Such animals living underground encompass modified feet for digging example: the mole, spade-footed toad and so on.

Physiological Adaptation:

This deals with the adaptation of physiological procedures in order to overcome certain ecological problems. Some of the illustrations are:

1) In desert animals such as camels, the kidneys are well developed by an additional ordinarily long loop of Henle to absorb and preserve water.

2) Other animals generate concentrated forms of urine in solid forms to evade water loss example: insects.

Others in order to evade body fluid loss and excrete diluted urine example: Tilapia found in the fresh-water ecosystems.

3) Several animals have developed enzymes employed for digesting food materials example: sulphide bacteria have evolved an enzyme to digest hydrogen sulphide; cloth moths have evolved enzymes which digest groups in wool.

Behavioral Adaptation:

Animals modify their behavioral pattern to survive in their atmospheres; for illustration, desert animals avoid the extreme heat of the day by staying beneath shade and in damp places. This prevents extreme loss of water. Though, the most pronounced behavioral adaptations in animals have been evolved in what ecologists explains as (pair-wise) co-evolution in which one species builds adaptive characteristics in response to the other. Some of the illustrations are:

1) In response to predators, several animals mimic the coloration of their background or habitat to evade being seen by their predators. This exists in several species of fish, insects and chameleons.

2) Distasteful animals are frequently brightly colored, advertising their presence to warn the intending predators not to eat them, example: butterflies, wasps and a few caterpillars are brightly colored to warn birds. The birds will encompass to learn how to relate patterns their colors with distastefulness (that is, Mullerian mimicry).

3) Animals which are not distasteful might converge on the warning coloration too. They employ it as a disguise to pretend they are distasteful if in fact they might be quite palatable (Batesian mimicry).

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