Unit 1 - Adaptations for Survival
Polar bears live in the Arctic.

Unit 1 - Adaptations for Survival

This GCSE Biology quiz is all about the adaptations of animals, plants and other organisms which enable their survival. For an organism to be successful, it needs to be well adapted. Adaptations for survival are the ways in which an organism is suited to life in a particular environment or habitat. These adaptations can be characteristics, behaviour or both. Organisms that are perfectly adapted to a particular way of life in a habitat will change little over long periods of time, unless something changes.

Slow changes in organisms are made through natural selection. In any population of plants or animals, genetic mutations will occur. Badly (or not so well) adapted mutations are less likely to survive and breed but well adapted mutations will do both. The new characteristics that make them better adapted than their competitors are therefore passed on to their offspring.

Natural selection and adaptation through inherited characteristics occurs slowly but behavioural adaptations can arise over much shorter time periods. Environmental and other changes may affect the behaviour and distribution of living organisms causing significant changes in populations - plants not suited to the new conditions will die and animals will either die or move elswhere. Population size depends on factors including competition, predation and human influences.

Test your knowledge of adaptations for survival by playing this quiz on the subject.

Microorganisms have to compete with each other for which of the following?
A mate
Bacteria reproduce rapidly and can adapt to new conditions in a few generations
Which of the following statements is true of extremophiles?
Some extremophiles can tolerate high temperatures
No extremophiles can tolerate high pressure environments
Extremophiles cannot survive in environments where the light intensity varies
All extremophiles require low salt levels
They are also tolerant to other extremes such as high or low pH
Which one of the following resources is the least likely to be a limiting factor for plants?
Carbon dioxide
Light intensity
Growth is controlled by the scarcest resource so if there is light and water but the temperature is low, growth would be limited. The same works for the other two factors but there is always more than enough carbon dioxide in the air for plants as air is a gas and is constantly circulating
In order to survive, plants need: light, space, nutrients, water and what else?
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a resource for which plants don't compete
Animals can display features similar to those of poisonous animals, to deter predators. What is this known as?
Often animals with the markings of poisonous animals will be less likely to be eaten by predators, thus increasing their chances of survival
Arctic animals have which adaptation to allow survival?
Brown fur in the summer and white fur in the winter for camouflage
Thick layer of fat so they can survive hibernation
Small eyes and ears to keep out the cold
Ability to swim faster than their prey
The layer of fat also helps to insulate their bodies against the extreme cold
How does a cactus avoid being eaten by animals?
It has spikes which prevent water loss by evaporation
It has a thick fleshy stem which stores water
It has deep roots to absorb as much water as possible
It has spikes which hurt the animal
Cacti avoid being eaten by having sharp spines which deter animals from coming near
What is the benefit of camouflage to an animal?
Helps it to thermoregulate
Ensures that it blends in with the surroundings
Makes sure that the predator or prey cannot see it as easily
Helps to cool it down

You should have quickly discounted the first and fourth options, the difficulty is then choosing between the two remaining possibilities. This question is about the benefit ( in other words, the end result) of camouflage.


The advantage of camouflage is that it enables an animal to blend into its surroundings. That's not the end of the story. The benefit of this to a predator is that it can get closer to its prey with less chance of being spotted, giving the predator a greater chance of a successful hunt. If the prey is camouflaged, it is harder for a predator to spot it, increasing its survival chances.


The correct answer is therefore option 3. Always remember to think about what the question is actually asking you.

Animals compete with each other for which of the following resources?
A habitat
A territory
An ecosystem
An adaptation
Competition can lead to changes in behaviour or characteristics
Which of the following is a special adaptation for survival in desert plants?
Larger surface area to volume ratio
Reduced leaf surface area
Increased number of stomata
This helps them to conserve water. Having a larger surface area to volume ratio or an increased number of stomata would have the opposite effect. Thorns are not an adaptation that is special to desert plants, they occur in a other climate zones and habitats. The most common desert plants studied for the GCSE are cacti, which develop spines (adapted leaves) and not thorns (adapted branches)
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - Adaptations, interdependence and competition

Author:  Donna Maria Davidson

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