Adaptations for Obtaining Food, Protection, Locomotion.


adaptations - are features organisms have to enable them to survive (and reproduce).
Some protective adaptations are

Examples of Adaptations

Behavioral and/or Structural Adaptation for Obtaining Food
Quiet and quick to catch prey. Sharp teeth (canines) are used for piercing and holding onto prey. Strong legs fast/quick  for catching food. Camouflage coloration (arctic fox is white) for hiding from enemies or hunting prey. Arctic fox decreased basal metabolic adaptation to food scarcity in winter.
Long legs which are suited for ploughing through deep snow, walking over bushes and logs, and wading through muskeg. Close off nostrils to feed underwater. Big muscular lips to pull up plants. Tilts head back to put antlers along back to aid in running through brush, trees.
Finds worms by keen eyesight (not by hearing!), quick movemens to pounce on them and a beak to pull them up. Beak to crush seeds, small insects. Some store food for later. Some break food against ground, rocks. Parent regurgitates or bring food to young in nest.
Keen eyesight. High flight. Sharp claws (talons) and sharp hooked beak.
birch tree
Root system. Broad large leaves on high up branches to catch sunlight for photosynthesis. Vascular system to bring sap from root to leaf.
pitcher plant
Leaves form pitchers (water holding jugs) to drown and dissolve/digest insects for nutrients. Down pointing hairs inside to prevent insect escape. Color, smell to attract insects. (Grows in poor soils - simple roots!)
Spin sticky web catch insects. Venom (bites) to paralize. Venom preserves/digests inside of prey, spider drink it out. Wrap and store insect. Move quickly.
bread mold
Floats in air (as a spore) until it lands on food. Secrete digestive enzymes (fluids) to dissolve food then absorbs the nutrient products. Grows through the food.(Can't make their own food- not plants so don't need light!)

Behavioral and/or Structural Adaptation for Protection
 Spray foul smelling scent. Sharp claws. Warning coloration (black with contrasting white stripes).Hisses, stamps feet, raises tail to threaten.
Stay quiet and still. Males can fight with antlers?(Drop off in winter) . Strong legs and sharp hooves to kick. Run fast. Keen sense of smell. Good hearing (ears swivel). Color may be camoflauge in woods. May charge and kick/trample enemy.
Plays dead. Grimaces. Clings to things.
Seasonal color change for camoflage.
Hisses, spits. Arches back, puffs up fur, sticks tail up to look bigger (more threatening). Sharp claws, teeth.
Most can withdraw into shell. Sharp beak.  Scales on legs. Hissing.  Some squirt water, body wastes, emit foul smells. Snapping turtles lunge and bite. Some Bury eggs on beach. Hatchlings head immediately for sea.
birch tree
Drops leaves in winter to avoid snow loading and damage. Strong flexable wood/roots avoid wind damage.
fir tree
Needle leaves are sharp. Cone shape of tree and needle leaves don't hold snow or catch much wind.
Looks (color and shape) like seagrass beds on reefs. (camouflauge and mimicry?)
vice-roy butterfly
Color and wing pattern makes it look like toxic monarch butterfly (mimicry) so birds won't try to eat it.

Behavioral and/or Structural Adaptation for Locomotion
Long legs which are suited for ploughing through deep snow, walking over bushes and logs, and wading through water/bogs/marsh/swamp/muskeg. Tilts back head (bull) so rack or antlers lay flat on back when running through dense wood. Drops rack out of mating season.
Fins to swim. Sleek body shape.
Strong wings to get into flight quickly. Webbed feet like paddles for water surface propulsion.
Long strong legs to hop quickly and far. Web hands, feet for swimming. Body shaped for easy water movement. Slimey body to slip over rocks, etc.?
Body bending/flexing in wave like motions (undulations) against ground friction. Some use scales like paddles on ground (straight line).
Two sets of muscles that alternately expand and contract to fatten and shorten or to stretch and thin different sections of the body. Also tiny hairs like legs?
Tubefeet under each arm alternate stick and release.

Birds Feet Adaptation (p.227)

coot - lives in marshy areas foot padding serves to keep it from sinking into the soft ground. Claws  for  digging for food (roots, etc..)  Can paddle in water. Long strong legs digging, wading in shallow water.

heron - long foot for balance, long legs for wading along rocky, sandy or muddy shorelines.

duck - webbed feet for propelling along water surface. Short legs, muscular for swimming.

ptarmigan - fur covered for winter warmth, helps widen foot for snowshoe effect. Clawed for digging.

eagle - strong leg foot for grasping prey. Talon (sharp claws) killing and grasping prey.Rough feet bottom to hold slippery fish prey.

sparrow - foot shaped to perch (grasp and hold a branch), talons to dig for insects.

pheasant - strong foot with extra talons for digging. bird lives on surface, foot is good for running.

More Definitions

sexual dimorphism -

life cycle -

metamorphosis - the series of changes in appearance and habits during any individual's life cycle.

Examples of metamorphosis -

Types of Metamorphosis

  1. Complete metamorphosis - butterfly, frog
  2. Incomplete metamorphosis - grasshopper

Artificial Selection

Humans select organisms to reproduce based on desirable traits humans want in (future) offspring.

Ex. dogs - what/how would you select puppies from a litter if you intended to sell dogs for some "purpose" or "job"?

Seed Adaptations

Many plants reproduce by seeds. Seeds can be thought of as an adaptation for reproduction by plants.

Try this Quiz on seed dispersal methods. (Hard to see seed the small pictures!)

Use the following websites to find out more:

How Changing an Organism's Environment can Change the Organism.

Activity - Scientific Simulation - Square insects, colored environment, and straw predatory birds
Thought Lab

Ladybugs...survive or not!

Best Environment
Worst Environment
A rose bush - red roses camoflage (protect)
Green leafy environment - bug color stands out
Rain forest - lots of aphids to eat, warm
Desert - no food - stand out
Flower gardens - red, black and other colors flowers
Outer space - no oxygen
Flower shop/greenhouse - no predators, food available
Snow - cold and stand out

Question - Which area in the table above will Ladybugs have a population in?

Change to the peppered moth population in England during the 1800's Industrial Revolution

Darwin and the finches of the Galapagos Island.

Describe the case of the San Jose scale (See the assignments on this!)

The Five Kingdoms

Prokaryotae (Monera)
Cell Structure
Unicellular & Multicellular
Unicellular & Multicellular Multicellular
Cell Wall

yes, hard, made chitin
yes, hard, (not chitin)
flexible or soft
Cell Nucleus
yes, present

yes, present
live in colonies or separate

bacteria, virus
amoeba, paramecium
mushrooms, moulds
flowers, trees, moss
humans, dogs, cats

Hierarchical Systems

Biologists use an hierarchical system to organize living organisms with seven major levels (see p. 255)

Activity 5-7 - Linnaeus System of  Name Classification

Names of organisms will be created using these agreed upon "rules".
  1. Use two words.
  2. Use Latin. (Latin is a "dead" language, no one speaks it, so the meanings of its words will never change!)
  3. First word starts uppercase (capitalized), second word all lowercase.
  4. First more general (genus), second specific (species).
Our examples.

We think the bat looks related to the mouse, so first name should reflect this!
So Mus (latin for mouse) is our first word in the name.

Mouse could now be named one of:
Bat could now be named one of:
Zebra resembles a horse (equus) so could be named:
(It was pointed by some that the Zebra's tail (has a boney part) is different than a horse's tail (hair only). Also there are other major differences. Maybe zebras and horses should not have the same genus name?)

Dichotomous Keys

dichotomous key - a list of pairs of alternative characteristics used to identify living things

    We examined:
  1. Dichotomous key use for identification of some ungulates (p.260)
  2. Dichotomous key construction for insects (Act 508 p.261)
  3. Dichotomous key use for identification of "strange creatures" (handout)