An adaptation is defined by National Geographic as a genetic change in the structure or habits of an organism to allow it to survive, protect itself and reproduce in its environment. Physical adaptations, such as plants that develop thick stems to store water in deserts, manifest in the structure of the organism, while behavioral adaptations, such as animals that migrate to raise offspring, appear as a social trait.
Physical adaptations include teeth, body coverings and movement, and behavioral adaptations include social behavior, migration and protective actions. National Geographic explains how certain adaptations, called exaptations, can develop for one purpose and later be used for another, such as bird feathers created for warmth and eventually used for flight. Other adaptations, termed vestigial, become useless but remain with the organism, such as the non-functioning leg bones still found in dolphins.
Reasons for adaptations to occur include environmental, lifestyle or relationship changes, some of which are due to human intervention, according to New World Encyclopedia. In rare cases, adaptations can result in maladaptation, which decreases the survival rate. Often, adaptations develop slowly over many generations in a species. Adaptations contribute to diversity in species. However, organisms that are unable to adapt can become extinct over time.Learn More
Any behavior that helps an organism or a species to survive can be considered as a behavioral adaptation. Animal migration is an example of behavioral adaptation; moving in a large group helps protect the members of the group from predators and enables them to survive in different areas, especially if there is a lack of food or they need to avoid a harsh weather.Full Answer >
In the trophic structure, classification of organisms in an ecosystem occurs through the energy source and consumption of food by an organism. The trophic structure represents the relationship between species and food sources.Full Answer >
A niche is the role an organism fills within its environment. What and where an animal eats are considered part of its niche. For instance, some birds, such as woodpeckers, eat insects in trees. This limits the bug population and keeps bugs from overtaking the environment.Full Answer >
Feedback loops help maintain homeostasis by allowing the organism to respond to changes in its environment. Feedback loops are important because organisms are always dealing with changes in environment or internal condition, so the feedback loop prevents those changes from going too far and becoming dangerous.Full Answer >