Habitats and Adaptations
Adaptation: The presence of some specific features and certain habits which allow an organism to live in its habitat is called adaptation. Organisms show adaptation according to their habitat.
Acclimatization: The changes which happen in the body of a single organism over a short duration; due to sudden changes in its surroundings is called acclimatization. For example; when a person (who lives in the plains) goes to a mountain, he may experience difficulty in breathing initially. Within a couple of days, he would begin to breathe normally because his body learns to make adjustments. This is an example of acclimatization.
While adaptations are a result of changes over thousands of years, acclimatization is the result of short term changes.
Adaptations keep on happening in many living beings; in response to changes in the environment. Those with useful adaptations survive, while those who fail to adapt perish. The correlation of adaptation and survival has resulted in evolution of a variety of living beings on this earth.
Some examples of adaptation of living beings in the desert are as follows:
Adaptations in Camel:
Camels are synonymous with hot deserts. A camel shows many adaptations which help it to live in the hot desert.
- The padded feet of camels help it in easily walking on the sand.
- A camel has long eyelashes which prevent the sand from getting into its eyes.
- A camel can drink lots of water at one go and can go on for many days without drinking water.
- The camel produces dry dung and very little urine in order to conserve water.
Small creatures; living in deserts; have hard scales on their body which help in preventing the loss of water due to heat. These creatures usually hide in the shadow during daytime and come out during night.
Adaptations in Desert Plants:
- Desert plants have very deep roots so that they can access water from great depths.
- Leaves of some desert plants are modified into spine-like structures. This helps in preventing water loss by way of transpiration.
- Stems of some desert plants are modified into leaf-like structures. Such stems are spongy and have a coating of wax over them. The wax coating prevents evaporation and spongy inside helps in storing lot of water.
The mountain habitat is very cold and snowfall takes place in winters in some areas.
The trees of the mountain habitat are cone-shaped. The leaves of such trees are needle-shaped. The needle-shape of leaves helps in preventing accumulation of snow on the leaves and thus they are not damaged due to snow.
Animals in the mountain habitat have thick coat of fur. This helps in keeping them warm during very cold winters. The mountain goats have strong hooves which help them in running along the mountain slopes. Yak and snow leopards are common examples of animals in the mountain habitat.
Many animals live in the grasslands and in forests. The climate is warm and food is available in good amount. But because of heavy population, the competition for food and other resources is tough in the grasslands and forests. Let us take the example of some animals to understand adaptation for grasslands.
Lion: A lion is a ferocious hunter. It is strong because of muscular body. The sharp claws of lions help them in killing a prey. These claws retract inside when they are running and thus a lion can walk without making a noise. The colour of lion is pale yellow which mixes with the colour fo dry grasses and rocks. Thus the body colour of lion helps it in hiding from its prey.
Tiger: A tiger is as good a hunter as a lion. The black stripes on the body of tiger look like grasses to its prey.
Deer: A deer is a fast runner. It can sprint very fast to save its life from a predator. A deer has very good hearing ability which helps it in hearing the steps of an approaching predator. The eyes of the deer are on the side of its head. The position of a deer’s eyes helps it in seeing a predator coming from behind.
Some Aquatic Animals
Fish: The streamlined body of a fish enables it to easily move in water. Fish have gills through which they take in oxygen from water. Octopus can mimic its surrounding and thus hides at the bottom of the sea. It contorts its body to get streamlined shape; while swimming in water. An octopus sprays a cloud of ink to confuse its enemy.
Frog: A frog has long hind limbs which help it in jumping on the ground. Its webbed feet help it in swimming in water. The frogs lay eggs in water. The sticky tongue of frog helps it in catching its prey.
Aquatic Plants: Aquatic plants are of three types. Some plants have roots attached to the bottom of the pond. Some plants are fully submerged in water, while some plants keep on floating on water. The roots of aquatic plants help them in anchorage. Leaves of submerged plants are ribbon-shaped. In some plants, the leaves are highly fragmented. Such shape of leaves prevents any damage to the leaves from flowing water. Leaves of floating plants are large and flat with waxy coating on them. The leaves of such plants are spongy as well; with lot of air inside. This helps the leaves in floating on water.