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Difference Between Adaptation and Acclimation

Adaptation vs Acclimation

All living organisms need to have an environment where they can survive and flourish. Scientists refer to this place as the natural habitat. But since all species of plants and animals are connected with each other in the so-called food web, trespassing territories is unavoidable. As a result of this intrusion, any organism crossing boundaries either needs to adapt or acclimate itself to its new surroundings.

Adaptation and acclimation are two terms commonly used to describe the adjustment done by either a plant or animal when it goes beyond its normal habitat. It also applies to changes that may occur inside its own environment which can render it unsuitable for survival if they fail to adjust. While they may often refer to changes in the habitat, there are differences between how they should be used properly.

Adaptation is centered on an organism’s ability to change its physical and chemical make up to adjust to its habitat. This takes a long time to achieve and usually affects the whole group to which it belongs. It is part of the evolution process, which all living things must undergo in order to cope with the ever changing planet. One good example of adaptation is the camel and its ability to survive for long periods of time in the desert with very little water.

Acclimation is a form of adaptation that an organism undergoes when transferred to a different habitat. It doesn’t take as long as evolutionary adaptation and it doesn’t affect the body composition of the entire species. Adjustment is made by modifying physical reactions to environmental changes, like shivering when exposed to cold weather.

Transformations that occur in adaptation tend to be permanent until new changes are needed again. The rule ‘survival of the fittest’ best describe how the process works. When changes in the environment occur, like a rise in temperature, animals and plants that can’t cope, eventually die leaving the stronger ones to survive and proliferate. These remaining members have adapted accordingly.

Acclimation, on the other hand, is temporary adaptation to gradual changes in the natural habitat. It only occurs in the lifespan of the organism and doesn’t affect evolution patterns of its species. A good example of this behavior is when a fresh water fish is caught and placed in an aquarium. The location may change but since sea water is not used, the new habitat pretty much mimics the old one, although it may experience a slight change in temperature and the space to swim around. Eventually the fish learns to adapt by acclimation to its new surroundings.

Adaptation is a natural process that occurs for every type of organism. This is to ensure continuity and survival of species. Acclimation may or may not occur in a habitat and if it does, it only takes a short time until an adjustment is made by animals and plants. Ultimately, both terms deal with how living things cope with changes in their environment.


1. Adaptation is a change in both physical and chemical composition of an organism brought about by habitat changes, while acclimation is a physical reaction made in order to adjust to said changes.
2. Adaptation is permanent, while acclimation is temporary.
3. Adaptation is a natural and necessary process for survival of a species, while acclimation only happens when there are small changes in the habitat.

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  1. Generally, this article is quite good.
    But there is one important thing: The trerm acclimation is only used for changes induced in the lab, while acclimATISation is used when it happens in a natural environment.

  2. Clear me about acclamation and acclimatisation. ?????

  3. ser Chotu Ram colony

  4. It’s literally quite good but , why everywhere there is different smelling of acclimatisation

  5. This article is generally good. However, I believe shivering is an adaptive homeostatic mechanism.

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