It is said that the only constant in the world is the change itself. Thus, a living organism must cope with the change in its natural habitat. Not only human beings but even plants and animals have to go through these changes and adapt themselves to the new changing conditions. When a plant or an animal changes its behavior to suit the new conditions, it is commonly referred to as either adaptation or acclimation.
Adaptation vs Acclimation
The main difference between adaptation and acclimation is that adaptation is a gradual and irreversible event that takes place in living organisms when they adjust to a new situation or environment over a long period. On the other hand, acclimation is a fast but reversible process through which living organisms adjust to a new environment different from their natural environment over a short period.
Adaptation can be described as the process through which living organisms try to adjust to ging circumstances to survive. In this process, the organism undergoes several changes in its behavior, body structure, diet, etc. These changes take place gradually and they are irreversible or permanent. Adaptation has a great role to play in the evolution of a species.
Acclimation is also caused due to the need to adjust to new conditions when there is a change in the natural habitat of the organism. These changes are rapid and temporary or reversible. This implies that if and when the original conditions arise, these changes will revert to their original form. Acclimation does not impact the evolution of a species in any way.
Comparison Table Between Adaptation and Acclimation
|Parameters of Comparison||Adaptation||Acclimation|
|Definition||Adaptation is a long-term and irreversible change experienced by plants and animals when they face a change in the environment.||Acclimation is a short-term and reversible change experienced by plants and animals when they face a temporary change in the environment.|
|Period of change||The change is for a long period.||The change is for a short period.|
|Reversibility of change||Adaptation is an irreversible or permanent change.||Acclimation is a reversible or temporary change.|
|Speed of change||The change takes place slowly and gradually.||The change takes place rapidly.|
|Genetic composition||Adaptation has a direct effect on the genetic composition of the being.||Acclimation has no impact on the genetic composition of the being.|
What is Adaptation?
Adaptation is a long-term and irreversible change experienced by plants and animals when they face a change in the environment. The change in the environment is of great magnitude and if it is not accompanied by a change in the living being, there may be grave consequences. If we take the case of dinosaurs, this is what happened to them. As they were unable to adapt to the change in habitat, this led to their extinction. Thus, adaptation carries great importance.
Adaptation has a great role to play in the evolution of living organisms. It not only brings about changes in the physical appearance and behavior of the organism but also in its genetic or chemical composition. Any change in the genetic material makes a drastic impact on the future generations of that living organism. Thus, adaptation is not a rapid process, but a gradual one and its effects can only be analyzed in full force after successive generations.
What is Acclimation?
Acclimation is a short-term and reversible change experienced by plants and animals when they face a temporary change in the environment. When the change in the habitat is for a short period and the original conditions are sure to be back after a short period, living organisms undergo acclimation. This helps those living organisms to adjust to new situations and habitats.
For example, let us take the polar bear to understand the term better. Polar bears are famous for their snowy white fur. However, with the change in the temperatures of their surroundings, the color of fur can change to brown or yellow. This helps the fur in trapping heat.
Acclimation does not influence the process of evolution. This is because it does not lead to any change in the genetic composition of the organism. Acclimation causes changes in the physical appearance, diet, and behavior of the organism. These changes take place rapidly and are reversed as soon as the original conditions reverse.
Main Differences Between Adaptation and Acclimation
- Adaptation is a long-term and irreversible change experienced by plants and animals when they face a change in the environment. On the other hand, Acclimation is a short-term and reversible change experienced by plants and animals when they face a temporary change in the environment.
- Adaptational change takes long periods to be undertaken. However, Acclimation change can be completed in short periods.
- While the adaptational change is irreversible and permanent, the acclimation changes are reversible and temporary, if the original conditions revert.
- The speed of change in adaptation is gradual while the same in acclimation is a rapid process.
- The process of adaptation has a direct bearing on the genetic composition and thus, the evolution of the species. In contrast, the process of acclimation does not affect the evolution of the being.
There are often changes in the environment in which plants and animals live. However, those organisms would find it hard to sustain themselves in the changed conditions. Thus, the way forward for their survival would be to change according to the change in their natural surroundings.
Adaptation and acclimation are both changes in the living organisms when those organisms face changes in their natural habitat. These changes in the physical and/or chemical features of the organism facilitate its survival.