Adaptation is the tendency of a species to change to better take advantage of its environment. Through genetic variation and the natural selection of individuals for environmentally-advantageous phenotypic attributes, a population changes slowly over time in such a way that its survival as a species is more assured.
Adaptation tends to occur as an ecosystem changes. Changes in species usually amount to modifications of one or more of four biological functions:
- Defense/attack mechanisms
- Protection from natural environment
- Acquisition of food, water, or other nutrients.
In addition, adaptation can occur in species social behavior (for instance, grizzly bears learning to beg for food in Yosemite National Forest). Behavioral adaptation can occur on a social level as a result of learning without any genetic variation.
The source of phenotypic adaptation is genetic modification, which can result from the new pronunciation of a previously-latent trait; a physical mutation leading to a new and more advantageous trait; lateral gene transer, etc.
Regardless of the form of the adaptation, hundreds or thousands of small changes over time (microevolution) leads to the separation of different populations into different species. This has been demonstrated in microcosm with numerous species from island habitats, where isolated groups of a species adapt and change to survive in an isolated environment.
Web Resources On Adaptation
Animals and Adaptation
Book Resources On Adaptation
Adaptation by Rose & Lauder
Adaptation and Natural Selection by George Williams