Even though our British winter is not nearly so cold and severe as polar winters, plants and animals still have to be able to adapt to low temperatures and a shortage of food.

Adaptation

Every living thing is adapted to enable it to cope with a particular habitat’s environmental factors such as the air, water, soil, light and temperature. For example, cacti plants are adapted specially to be able to withstand the dry conditions of a desert, whereas seaweeds are designed specially to live in salty water – neither would survive if they changed places.

Depending on what sort of habitat it lives in, an animal or plant may have to adjust itself to changes in its environment. The most obvious changes are those of lengthening and shortening of daylight hours, and increasing and decreasing temperature. This is what happens when autumn turns into winter.

Many plants and animals live in climates where the temperature never drops too low (as in Britain), so they don’t have to worry about surviving extreme cold. Some animals avoid the cold of winter by migrating to warmer climates. Those animals and plants that live in permanently cold areas (such as polar regions) however, need special adaptations which allow them to survive in their harsh environment.

Even though our British winter is not nearly so cold and severe as polar winters, plants and animals still have to be able to adapt to low temperatures and a shortage of food. The cold causes living things all sorts of problems. Freezing temperatures turn water into ice so that animals cannot drink, and plants cannot take up water through their roots to enable them to make food (the process known as photosynthesis).

Some animals, particularly insectivores such as hedgehogs and some birds, cannot find enough food during the winter months. Autumn is the time when wildlife prepares itself for the cold weather ahead.

Here are a few ways in which plants and animals manage to survive the British winter...

Read More: Plant Preparation

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