How Do Organisms Adapt to Their Environments?

Organisms have the ability to adapt to specific conditions within their environments through the biological process of variation, which enhance organisms’ chances of survival. Variation is essentially a form of natural selection that takes place during long periods of time. Through the process of evolution, organisms retain the strongest traits and features that allow them to breed, find food, and survive in certain habitats.

Adaptations vary widely among species, but have the same end purpose, which is to equip plants and animals with biological and inherited traits and features that they need to live in various environments, such as rain forests, deciduous forests, the ocean, desert regions, and the frigid Arctic tundra. Variation creates small, incremental changes over time that make organisms more suited for life in different locations.

Polar bears, for instance, have several key traits and characteristics that make them capable of enduring the often harsh conditions of life in Antarctica. Polar bears have dense fur coats that are light gray or white in color, which serves as camouflage from predators. They also have thick layers of insulative fur and fat to protect them from cold winds, and a waxy coat that helps repel water, keeping the bears warm and protected against frostbite and hypothermia when swimming and after leaving the water .