Ecology Information

Adaptation is the evolutionary process whereby a population becomes better suited to its habitat. This process takes place over many generations, and is one of the basic phenomena of biology.

The term adaptation may also refer to a feature which is especially important for an organism's survival. For example, the adaptation of horses' teeth to the grinding of grass, or their ability to run fast and escape predators. Such adaptations are produced in a variable population by the better suited forms reproducing more successfully, that is, by natural selection.

Adaptation is, first of all, a process, rather than a physical part of a body. The distinction may be seen in an internal parasite , where the bodily structure is greatly simplified, but nevertheless the organism is highly adapted to its unusual environment. From this we see that adaptation is not just a matter of visible traits: in such parasites critical adaptations take place in the life-cycle, which is often quite complex. However, as a practical term, adaptation is often used for the product: those features of a species which result from the process. Many aspects of an animal or plant can be correctly called adaptations, though there are always some features whose function is in doubt. By using the term adaptation for the evolutionary process, and adaptive trait for the bodily part or function , the two senses of the word may be distinguished.

Wikipedia, Ecology, (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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