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Definition: adaptation from Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

In biology, the process by which an animal or plant becomes fitted to its environment. It is the result of natural selection acting on inherited variation. Even simple organisms must be adapted in many ways, including structure, physiology, and genetics; movement or dispersal; means of defense and attack; and reproduction and development. To be useful, adaptations must often occur simultaneously in different parts of the body.

Event: adaptation

Keywords: adaptation

Summary Article: adaptation
From Philip's Encyclopedia

In biology, a trait of an organism that increases its chances of success in its environment. Animals and plants adapt to changes in their environment through variations in structure, reproduction or organisation within communities. These variations are the result of the individual organism's DNA, so are more prevalent in the next generation if they increase its chances of survival and reproductive success. This is the process which drives evolution. Adaptation takes place over generations and should not be confused with acclimatisation to new conditions within a single organism's lifetime.


The various honeycreepers of Hawaii evolved from one species of bird now long extinct (centre). Over millions of years the honeycreepers evolved different methods of feeding. This ensured the island's various habitat niches could be exploited, resulting in less competition among the birds and allowing more to survive. The main adaptation was the dramatic change in the shape of the beaks. A few species evolved beaks best suited to feed on nectar (1), others feed purely on insects (2), while some feed on fruit (3) or seeds (4).

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