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The Living Organisms and Their Surroundings

Habitat and Adaptation

Tomorrow you if we go deep down the earth, do you think we’ll find life there? The answer to this is an absolute YES! We can find everywhere, although the question is then why can’t we find polar bears here? Well, we can’t find every organism everywhere. Every organism has its own habitat and they adapt accordingly. Let us know more about habitat and adaptation.

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A Leap to Adaptation
Habitat and its Types
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Habitat

Every organism has a unique ecosystem for its habitat. This ecosystem is its natural habitat. This is where the organism meets its basic need for its survival: food, water, shelter from the weather and place to breed its younglings.

The geographical feature and environment conditions on earth differ from one place to another. Some areas of the earth are mountains while others are covered by water. We also find snow, desert, forest, grassland, pond, rivers and lakes. There are many organisms that live in extreme environmental conditions.

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Different Types of Habitat

1. Forest Habitat

Forest is a large area covered with plants. Forest covers about one-third of our planet. Most of the different types of plants and animals have their forest as their habitat. Forest broadly divides into three types: 

Tropical forest or Tropical rain forest

These are found between the equator and two tropics, that is, Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. The Temperature of these forests ranges from 20 to 34 degree Celsius. These regions receive heavy rainfall throughout the year with annual rainfall of more than 200cm. These are spread in India, Malaysia and other countries of South East Asia and South America.

  • Plants: Orchid, vine, moss, and fern.
  • Animals: Bat, gorilla, monkey, sloth, macaw, and variety of insects.

            adaptation adaptation

Temperate forest

Temperate forests are found in eastern North America, northeast Asia and western and central Europe. The temperature of these regions from ranges -30 to 30 Degree Celsius. The annual rainfall is about 150 cm. Temperate forests have well-defined winter and summer seasons.

  • Plants: Maple, oak, and elm.
  • Animals: Fox bald eagle, mountain lion, bobcat, and black bear.

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Boreal or Taiga forests

These forests are found in Canada, Russia, Scandinavia, China, Mongolia, and north Japan. Here, temperature dips from as low as -50degree Celsius to as high as 30 degree Celsius.

  • Plants: Evergreen trees such as pine, fir, deer, etc.
  • Animals:  Wolf, lynx, fox, deer, wood packer, bat, and chipmunk.

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2. Aquatic  Habitat

Habitat in water is aquatic habitats. Such places include all the water bodies like rivers, lakes, seas, oceans. The organisms that live in water are aquatic animals. It is mainly of three kinds: freshwater, marine, and coastal.

 adaptation  adaptation

  • Freshwater habitatRivers, lakes, ponds, and streams are examples of freshwater habitat. Fish, frog, duck, lotus, and water lily are found in fresh water,
  • Marine water habitatOceans and seas form the largest habitat on the planet. Some commonly found animals are whale, dolphins, sharks, octopus, starfish, jellyfish, seahorse, etc, and plants, seaweeds are the most common.
  • Coastal habitatCoastal habitat refers to the region where the land meets the sea.
  • Estuaries: These places where the saline water of sea or ocean mixes with the fresh water of rivers. It is the home of marine animals like crab, oyster, worms, and waterfowl. Mangroves seaweeds and marsh grasses are plants found here.
  • Coral reefs: These are the rock-like structure made from calcium carbonate by corals. They are also called ‘rain-forest of the sea’. Some are commonly found animals are corals, starfish, sea anemone, octopus, etc.

3. Grassland Habitat 

Grassland is regions dominated by grasses. There are too many trees and shrubs here. Temperature ranges between-20 degree and -30 degree. The annual rainfall varies between 50 cm and 90 cm.  Some animals commonly in this habitat are giraffe, deer, zebra, lion, elephant, etc.

adaptation

  4. Dessert Habitat

Deserts are areas that receive very little rainfall less than 25 cm annually. In hot desert, daytime temperature in summer can reach 45 degree Celsius. Organisms such as cactus, camel, gila monster and kangaroo rat are found here.

   adaptation  

5. Mountainous and Polar Habitat

Polar and mountainous regions are the coldest of all the habitats found on earth. These include the Arctic and the Antarctic regions. In the Antarctic, the lowest temperature recorded was -88 Degree Celsius. Animals such as polar bear, penguin, seal and walrus are found in Polar Regions.

      

Adaptation

The soil and climate conditions on land are different in different parts of the earth. It is necessary for organisms to adjust to the conditions and environment they live in. The special characteristics possessed by plants and animals that enable them to successfully survive in a particular environment is the adaptationOrganism adapt to their habitat by the following means changes in:

  • Body
  • Behavior
  • Location

Adaptation In Tropical Forest

Plants: The following adaptation is shown by rainforest plants:

  • Leaves of tropical rainforest trees have specialized tips.
  • Due to the dense vegetation of rainforest, very little light is able to reach the forest floor. Plants growing in lower levels have big leaves to absorb as much sunlight as possible.

Animals: There is a huge variety of animals in rain forests. Many animals have adapted by learning to eat a particular food, which is eaten by no other animals.

Adaptation for Temperate Forests

Plants: The following are the adaptation shown by plants in temperate forests:

  • Most trees are deciduous. They have thin, broad leaves that allow them to easily capture sunlight, which is required for making food.
  • Trees shed their leaves in winter because leaves are not able to bear the freezing winter.

Animals: Animals of temperate forests show the following adaptations:

  • Many animals either hibernate or migrate to warmer regions during winter.
  • Some animals gather food during summer and store it for eating during winter when food is scarce.

       

Adaptation for Boreal Forests

Plants:  The following are the adaptations shown by plants in boreal forests: 

  • Trees have a conical shape that allows the snow to slide off easily.
  • Trees have needle-like leaves. This kind of structure protects the leaves from damage.

  Animals: Animals in boreal forest show the following adaptations:

  • Many animals migrate to warmer regions during winter. Some animals hibernate during winter months.
  • Some animals have a thick layer of fur or feather to protect them from cold.

Adaptation for Grasslands

  Plants: The following are the adaptations shown by the plants in grasslands:

  • Grassland plants usually have flexible stems that bend instead of breaking when the wind is strong.
  • Plants have strong roots that prevent winds from uprooting them.
  • Plants have narrow or tiny leaves to reduce water loss.
  • Some plants have roots that extend deep into the soil to absorb as much water as possible.

 Animals: Animals in grassland show the following adaptations:

  • Most grassland animals are able to run very fast. This ability also protects them grassland fire.
  • Many grassland animals have skin shades of brown that makes them hard to spot among the dry, brown grass.

Adaptation for Deserts

Plants: The following are the adaptations shown by the plants in grasslands: 

  • The leaves are modified as spines to minimize water loss.
  • The stem is green, to make food for the plant.
  • The stem is swollen and fleshy to store water.
  • Cactus has a thick, waxy coating that prevents water loss and helps it to retain water.

Animals: Animals in desert show the following adaptations.

  • Desert animals have thick skin to prevent the loss of water from the body.
  • Most of the desert animals have the capacity to store water and food. For example, a camel can tolerate extremely hot temperature due to the stored water in its body, which helps in cooling.
  • Most of the small desert animals live in burrows to save themselves from fluctuation in temperature.
  • Reptiles are well-suited to the desert climates. They get most of the water through their food and lose hardly any moisture from their skin.

Adaptations in Mountain Regions

Plants: Plants in these regions have adapted themselves in the following ways:

  • Mountain plants grow close to the ground to avoid being uprooted by strong winds.
  • These plants also produce smaller leaves to prevent water loss.
  • Some plants are also able to grow under a layer of snow.

Animals: Animals in the mountain and Polar Regions show following adaptations:

  • Some mountain animals hibernate or migrate to warmer areas during colder months.
  • Small ears and tail minimize heat loss from the body.
  • Padded feet help the polar bear to walk on the snow.
  • Thick fur and a layer of fat under the skin protect the polar bear from cold.

Adaptations for Aquatic Habitats

 Plants: Aquatic plants show following adaptations:

  • These plants have long, narrow stems. This prevents the plants from being carried away with the water current.
  • Stems have air chambers that allow the aquatic plants to float in water leaves of plants such as lotus and water lily have a waxy coating that prevents them from rotting.

  Animals: aquatic animals show a variety of adaptations to survive in water:

  • Ducks have webbed feet that help them in swimming. They also have hollow bones that help them to stay afloat.
  • Gills are special organs that help fish to breath underwater.
  • They have streamlined body which allows them to swim fast by reducing resistance due to flowing water.
  • Dolphins and whale have blowholes at the upper parts of their heads. They come to the water surface and breathe in air through the blowholes from time to time.

Adaptation and Acclimatization

Adaptation refers to change in an organism over a long period of time. There are certain changes that can occur in an organism over a short period of time, which help the organisms adjust to the changes in its surrounding. This is Acclimatization.

Question For You

Q. Some animals have the ability to change color according to surroundings which of the following animals have this ability?

a. The butterfly and the bee                        b. The lizard and the tiger

c. The leaf insect and the chameleon        d. The polar bear and the penguin

Ans: c. The leaf insect and the chameleon

Chameleons are known for changing their color. They have some specialized cells beneath their skin known as chromatophores, which help them in color changing, while leaf insect is camouflaged to protect themselves from predators. They do so accurately that predators are not able to identify them from the real leaves.
All other options do not have chromatophores in their cells.
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