The key difference between adaptation and acclimatization is that adaptation is a gradual, long term and irreversible process shown by living organisms in order to adjust to new environment over a long period of time, while acclimatization is the rapid, reversible and temporary adaptation process shown by living organisms to changing environment within a short period of time.
Living organisms need a favourable habitat or niche in order to flourish and survive. However, environments change due to various factors. Among them, natural disasters and anthropogenic activities are two main causes. Living organisms face challenges when surviving in changing environments. Adaptation and acclimatization are two ways of adjustments shown by living organisms. Adaptation is a long term evolutionary important process while acclimatization is a temporary and rapid process which is not evolutionary important.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Adaptation
3. What is Acclimatization
4. Similarities Between Adaptation and Acclimatization
5. Side by Side Comparison – Adaptation vs Acclimatization in Tabular Form
What is Adaptation?
Adaptation is an adjustment shown by living organisms towards a changing environment. It is a permanent and gradual process. Moreover, it is a natural process which affects the evolution of a species. The organisms that fail to adapt to a new environment will not be favoured by natural selection.
Only an adapted organism will continue to survive and reproduce according to the rule of ‘survival of the fittest’. Hence, adaptation takes place over many generations. This adaptive trait can be morphological, physiological or behavioural characteristics that favour the survival of the organisms in the changing environment. Furthermore, adaptation is an irreversible process occurring over long periods of time.
What is Acclimatization?
Acclimatization is a rapid adjustment shown by individuals towards an environment change. It is a temporary adaptation for the change in the environment or habitat. It takes place within a short time period. Moreover, it happens during the life span of an organism; hence, it does not affect the evolutionary process of the species. Furthermore, acclimatization does not affect the body composition of the organism.
Generally, acclimatization is a response which is less habitual. Therefore, acclimatization is an adaptive change that is reversible when conditions return to their former condition. One example for acclimatization is the adjustment shown by the animals, including humans to the low pressure of oxygen (hypoxia) in high mountains. They improve the capacity of blood to transport oxygen by increasing the number of red blood cells.
What are the Similarities Between Adaptation and Acclimatization?
- Adaptation and acclimation are types of adjustments done by living organisms when there are changes in the environment
- Both adaptation and acclimatization ensure the survival of organisms.
What is the Difference Between Adaptation and Acclimatization?
Adaptation is a long term permanent adjustment of a group of organisms to the changing environment while acclimatization is a short term rapid temporary adjustment of an organism for an environmental change. So, this is the key difference between adaptation and acclimatization. Moreover, adaptation cannot be reversed while acclimatization can be reversed once the former conditions are provided. Therefore, we can consider this too as another difference between adaptation and acclimatization. Furthermore, adaptation affects the evolutionary process while acclimatization does not affect the evolutionary process.
Summary – Adaptation vs Acclimatization
Adaptation and acclimatization are two terms that refer to two types of adjustments shown by living organisms for changing environments. Adaptation takes place over many generations while acclimatization takes place within the life span of an organism. Moreover, adaptation is a gradual, permanent change that is evolutionary important for the survival and continuity of species while acclimatization is a rapid temporary change which can be reversed once the former conditions are provided. So, this summarizes the difference between adaptation and acclimatization.
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