Lesson 09 – Adaptations

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Read About Adaptations


Read the vocabulary terms to understand the reading better.

Organisms are living things that can grow, use nutrients, and produce young.

Characteristics are special features or qualities that help to identify a person, a thing, or a specific group.

Adaptations are changes in an organism’s body, appearance, or behaviour that happen over a long period of time to help the organism survive better in its environment (e.g., changes in colour, skin, toe position, beak shape, etc.); these changes and behaviours are passed down through the generations.

Behavioural adaptations are changes that happen over time in things an organism does that help it survive in its environment (e.g., hunting, fishing, hiding, burrowing).

Biodiversity is the number and variety of living things that live in a specific area.

Hibernating is spending the winter in a near-sleep or resting state with no activity.

Migrating is moving between different areas at specific times of the year (e.g., flying south in fall, flying north in spring).


Organisms have characteristics that help them survive in their community. These adaptations can be physical structures or behaviours. Individuals with helpful traits are more likely to survive. They produce young with the same traits. Adaptations create biodiversity after many generations.

Arctic Foxes have small ears to retain heat, this is a type of adaptation


Physical structures can help an organism survive. The beaks and feet of birds are good examples:

  • short strong hooked beaks for eating animals

  • long slender beaks dig in mud for food

  • webbed feet for swimming

  • a long back toe to perch on branches

Structural adaptations can also be inside an animal. For example, a penguin’s heart beats 60 to 100 times per minute. When the penguin dives, its heart rate drops to 20 beats per minute. That helps the penguin use less oxygen.


The things organisms do are called behaviours. They can help them find food or survive harsh weather. Hibernating and migrating are two behavioural adaptations. Hunting is another behaviour.

Grizzly Bears hibernate for up to 213 days
Birds migrate in the winter

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