In Chapter 10 we look at physiological adaptations, including the ways that animals have adapted to survive in arid environments. The Spinifex hopping mouse (above) has structural, functional and behavioural adaptations that make it well-suited to living in the desert. Look at it’s body shape (although it is a very small marsupial, it is almost spherical, which reduces it’s SA:V ratio and therefore reduces water loss by evaporation) and large eyes (enable it to see in dim light – feeding and escape from predators in low-light conditions). They are examples of structural adaptations. What are the functional (physiological) and behavioural adaptations of this marsupial?
Activity 10.3 also looks at the camel, euro, red kangaroo and budgerigar as vertebrates which are adapted to hot and dry climates. Zoos Victoria has produced some excellent worksheets about animal adaptations here.
This article has some examples from the northern hemisphere, including the desert wolf, oryx, eland and gazelles.
Draw up a table of three columns and list all the structural, functional and behavioural adaptations that vertebrates living in arid environments have in common.
You may have seen the program on ABC recently about “Cassowaries”. One of the interesting things about these large, flightless birds is that the male raises the chicks, which may number between 9 and 12. The Southern Cassowary is an endangered species, struggling to survive in the tropical rainforests of Queensland. It is notable for the bony projection on it’s skull, which allows it to crash through the rainforest. For more information, videos and images of the Southern Cassowary go to ARKive. More about the cassowary here: Unique Australian Animals.
What type of environment does the cassowary survive in? What abiotic and biotic factors might apply in this habitat? What ‘niche’ does this bird occupy? What structural, functional and behavioural adaptations allows the cassowary to survive in this habitat? What technology was used in this documentary to track, observe and record the distribution of cassowaries?
This is ‘The Story of H’, by Lubomir Panayotov, and it recently won Best Storytelling in the Slideshare, ‘Tell a story in 30 slides or less’ contest. Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria that affects 50% of the population and has been shown to cause stomach ulcers. Australian scientists won the Nobel prize in 2005 for their discovery of this bacteria and it’s role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.