If an animal or plant is to survive it must be able to fit in with the environmental conditions which occur in its habitat. This fitting in is called adaptation.

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. We will now look at some of the ways in which wildlife survives in the polar regions.

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