Within evolutionary theory, evolutionary adaptation is defined as a biological mechanism through which organisms adjust to changes in their environment through morphological, physiological, behavioral and molecular modifications, which make them more suitable for their existence. In fact, the word indicates this, since the term “adaptation” comes from the Latin adaptō which means “I adjust to”. Not all adaptations are completely positive, and for it to be transmitted from generation to generation and persist in the population, reproductive success must be increased. In addition, there are numerous characteristics of the species that have not been developed to better transmit the genetic material and that, therefore, are not adaptations, but are pure coincidences.
To learn more, we recommend that you continue reading this article that we present to you from AgroCorrn where we explain everything about biological adaptation: what it is, types and examples .
- What is biological adaptation
- Types of biological adaptation
- Examples of biological adaptation
- How important is biological adaptation for an individual?
What is biological adaptation
Biological adaptation is the driving force of evolution , and includes the changes at the phenotypic and molecular level that organisms experience over time in relation to the selective demands of their environment that allows them to better survive in a changing environment . Although it is known that before the 19th century there was already talk of adaptation, especially by Lamarck’s Theory, it was not until the development of the theory of natural selectionby naturalists Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace where this concept was promoted. In the same way, its concept has been expanded, since, in the Darwinian era, biological adaptation referred exclusively to changes at the phenotypic level while, since the beginning of the 20th century and with the advancement of molecular biology, the molecular level, that is, the changes given by gene regulation.
According to Wallace, the evolution of organisms was related to the adaptation of organisms to changing environmental conditions. In developing the theory of natural evolution, Wallace and Darwin went a step further in explaining how organisms adapt and evolve. The idea that became known with the theory of natural selection is that the traits that can be transmitted allow organisms that have these traits to adapt better to the environment than other organisms of the same species that lack said trait; consequently, this leads to better survival and reproduction compared to other individuals of the species that have not acquired this trait, which leads to evolution.
Types of biological adaptation
The acquired traits can be given through three types of biological adaptations :
- Morphological (or structural) adaptation: occurs when there is a change in the physical appearance of an organism involved. Several examples are developing suction cups or climbing claws, wings to fly, fins for swimming, or legs with potential to jump.
- Physiological (or functional) adaptation: this type is similar to the previous one, since they involve a physical change in the species, but, in this case, it focuses on the internal processes and workings of organisms; Furthermore, these adaptations can be encouraged by a change in the environment or by the behavior of another species. For example, develop resistance to diseases or toxins, develop greater intelligence and enhance the senses.
- Ethological (or behavioral) adaptation: this type occurs when an organism changes its way of acting naturally. Some examples are changes in vocalizations, courtship, nesting or mating rituals, as well as changes in predatory strategy, communication methods or feeding habits.
Examples of biological adaptation
In our environment, there are numerous examples of biological adaptation :
- One of them is found in the mimicry of insects with leaves, as this mechanism allows them to camouflage themselves and avoid being predated. As an example, we can mention the orchid mantis, which you can see in the photo below.
- Bats also have a very important biological adaptation: echolocation that helps them catch their prey.
- In the desert there is a plant, called the chaparral, that produces toxins that cause other plants to not grow around it, thus reducing competition for nutrients and water.
- Within the marine environment, the foliated sea dragon ( Phycodurus eques ) has adaptations that allow it to reduce its detectability to predators, as they blend in with the environment.
- In humans, the organisms of people living at high altitudes with oxygen levels considerably lower than at sea level, as is the case in Tibet, have developed changes in their body chemistry and genetic mutations that allowed them to use oxygen. more efficiently without the need for extra hemoglobin (ie, protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood).
- Another example of the adaptation of animals to their well-known environment is that of the evolution of the neck of giraffes , which were gaining height but above all it was their neck that was the part of their body that was elongated the most in order to feed on the highest leaves of tall trees, a food area that many other animals do not access and, therefore, they managed to have less competition for food.
How important is biological adaptation for an individual?
Adaptations are vital for the survival and evolution of species, and their existence is based on counteracting the constantly changing environment. The adaptation of living beings to the environment is vital to guarantee the survival of the species , since it will favor those species that have modeled their characteristics in response to the selective forces of their environment, benefiting them with a better exploitation of the environment.
Thus, in general, the importance of biological adaptation for an individual is to be able to survive better than others of the same species to their environment, reproducing more and passing this adaptation to the following generations, producing an evolution.
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