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Adaptations

In this worksheet, students learn how organisms adapt to their environment to ensure their survival.

'Adaptations' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  Biology: Ecosystems

Curriculum subtopic:  Interdependence and Adaptation of Organisms

Difficulty level:  

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Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

All organisms are adapted to their environment, i.e. their surroundings. That means their characteristics are varied to ensure survival in their habitat, the place they live in. There are many types of adaptations; for hunting, the weather, for camouflage, for protection, for swimming and many more. Below, you will explore the specific adaptations of some organisms.

 

 

Read the information and try to identify the visible adaptations of the polar bear on the picture.

  • small ears to stop it losing heat
  • white fur for camouflage
  • thick fur for insulation
  • thick layer of blubber (fat) under the skin for insulation
  • large feet to spread the weight so the polar bear does not sink in the snow, they are also good for swimming
  • fur under feet for rough soles for grip on the ice and insulation
  • sharp claws and teeth for catching and eating prey

 

Did you manage to find most adaptations? Now, do the same for this camel:

 

 

The desert environment is very difficult; as you may know, it is extremely hard to find water there and temperatures during the day may exceed 40° Celsius. However, during the night, temperatures may fall below freezing. This is how the camel adapts to that:

  •  Camels have no fat in their body, apart from the fat in their humps. Fat is an insulator and this would cause the camel to overheat.
  • the stored fat in the humps is used as an energy store when there is no food available
  •  camels' body temperature rises above normal without harming them, they do not need to sweat
  • camels have thick eylashes and hairy nostrils to stop sand getting in
  • like polar bears, they have large feet to stop them sinking into the sand 

 

In your exam, you may be asked about adaptations of organisms that you have not even heard of before. This is fine; you just need to read the information about their enviroment and their characteristics carefully and use you common sense and imagination to identify how they are adapted. You will be able to have a go at this in the questions that follow. The general rule is you get more marks if you identify the adaptation AND the reason it enables survival.

Complete the sentence by filling in the gaps using the table below:

 

The place that surrounds and organism is its _________A________, whereas the exact place it lives in is called its _________B________.

 

 

 Missing Words
A
B

What does the polar bear need to adapt to? Tick all that apply.

the cold

the heat

movement on snow

hunting

Polar bears hunt mainly seals. They wait at the water edge and bite into the seal's head when the seal surfaces. Pick one of the reasons below to explain why a brown bear would have difficulty doing that, even if it actually hunts fish.

 

The brown bear is not as strong as the polar bear.

Brown bears are slower than polar bears.

Brown bears would be more visible in a white environment so the seals would not surface.

The brown bear does not have sharp teeth.

The snowshoe hare lives in North America, where it snows in the winter. They do not hibernate and find food at night. They have smaller ears than other hare to prevent heat loss, and large feet to be able to move properly in the snow.

Look at the two pictures of a snowshoe hare, one in the winter and one in the summer. What main difference can see and what do you think happens? Tick all that apply.

 

 

In the summer it is brown/grey and white in the winter

Snowshoe hare looks for food at night so it cannot be seen anyway

It is camouflaged better being white when it snows

In the summer being brown/grey helps it blend in better with its changing environment

Look at the caterpillars and butterfly in the pictures. If you were their natural predator, a bird or a frog, would you eat them? Before you answer think about their colours and patterns! Tick two boxes.

 

     
Bright colours usually alert the predator that the insect is poisonous so they do not eat them

Bright colours make insects look delicious

Bright colours and patterns attract attention so that the insects are eaten

Eye patterns scare predators so they do not eat the insects

Identify an adaptation of the frogs in the pictures.

 

They are camouflaged in their environment

They are poisonous and look it so their predators do not eat them

They attract predators with their bright colours

When they see a snake they approach it because the snake would not eat them

Look at the two shapes in the diagram:

 

 

They are both made of the same eight cubes, so they have the same volume, but due to the different arrangement of the cubes the big cube has a smaller surface area of 96, whereas the other shape has a bigger surface area (112). The ratio of the surface area to volume is written like this:

The ratio increases when the surface area increases and the volume decreases (that's maths!).

 

Related organisms that live in different altitudes and different temperatures have different surface area to volume ratios. Bigger surface area means more heat loss.

How does the ratio compare between animals that live in cold environments and animals that live near the equator?

Animals that live in hot environments need a higher surface area to volume ratio to let the heat out.

Animals in the North Pole have a higher surface area to volume ratio to keep heat in.

Animals in the North Pole need a lower surface area to volume ratio to keep cool.

Here is the picture of a cactus plant.

 

 

Cacti live in the desert. Match their adaptation with how it supports the cacti to survive in the heat. If you can't read the whole sentence in the box, hover your mouse over it.

Column A

Column B

long roots
to reduce water loss
covered by a thick waxy waterproof cuticle
to reach as much water as possible
has spines instead of leaves
smaller surface area where water is lost to the en...
spines are spikey
to stop animals eating it to get the water stored ...

Observe the leaf in the picture.

 

 

It is from a rainforest plant and it rains heavily in rainforests. Too much water on leaves can damage them. How is this plant adapted to reduce the amount of water that stays on their leaves after the rain? Three answers are correct.

their leaves have shiny surfaces so water can slide easily

the leaf has a reduced surface area to let heat escape

pointed tips help water fall from the leaf more easily

the leaf is separated in many parts to let water fall down

Remember bulky bodies and polar bears from question 7? Look at the penguins in the picture and tick the sentences that apply.

 

they huddle together to protect from predators

they huddle together to keep warm

they huddle together to hunt

  • Question 1

Complete the sentence by filling in the gaps using the table below:

 

The place that surrounds and organism is its _________A________, whereas the exact place it lives in is called its _________B________.

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
 Missing Words
A
B
EDDIE SAYS
The exact place where an organism lives in is called its habitat, whereas the immediate surroundings are called the environment. For example, your house is your habitat and you neighbourhood or town is your environment.
  • Question 2

What does the polar bear need to adapt to? Tick all that apply.

CORRECT ANSWER
the cold
movement on snow
hunting
EDDIE SAYS
Polar bears are adapted to insulate in the cold environment, to move on snow and ice and to hunt.
  • Question 3

Polar bears hunt mainly seals. They wait at the water edge and bite into the seal's head when the seal surfaces. Pick one of the reasons below to explain why a brown bear would have difficulty doing that, even if it actually hunts fish.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Brown bears would be more visible in a white environment so the seals would not surface.
EDDIE SAYS
Brown bears would not be well camouflaged in white surroundings, which means the seals would be able to see them from under water and would not approach the waters' edge and surface.
  • Question 4

The snowshoe hare lives in North America, where it snows in the winter. They do not hibernate and find food at night. They have smaller ears than other hare to prevent heat loss, and large feet to be able to move properly in the snow.

Look at the two pictures of a snowshoe hare, one in the winter and one in the summer. What main difference can see and what do you think happens? Tick all that apply.

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
In the summer it is brown/grey and white in the winter
It is camouflaged better being white when it snows
In the summer being brown/grey helps it blend in better with its changing environment
EDDIE SAYS
The snowshoe hare is covered in white fur in the winter because it snows in North America and it can camouflage in the snow. It sheds the white fur and grows brown/grey as the snow melts and the environment changes to a mixture of brown and grey.
  • Question 5

Look at the caterpillars and butterfly in the pictures. If you were their natural predator, a bird or a frog, would you eat them? Before you answer think about their colours and patterns! Tick two boxes.

 

     
CORRECT ANSWER
Bright colours usually alert the predator that the insect is poisonous so they do not eat them
Eye patterns scare predators so they do not eat the insects
EDDIE SAYS
Bright colours and scary patterns are a natural signal for danger, as they usually signal for poisonous organisms or larger ones (for example with the large eyes on the butterfly).
  • Question 6

Identify an adaptation of the frogs in the pictures.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
They are poisonous and look it so their predators do not eat them
EDDIE SAYS
The poison dart frog (right) lives in the Amazon rainforest. They excrete poison when in danger and their bright colours signal danger to their predators so they are not eaten.
  • Question 7

Look at the two shapes in the diagram:

 

 

They are both made of the same eight cubes, so they have the same volume, but due to the different arrangement of the cubes the big cube has a smaller surface area of 96, whereas the other shape has a bigger surface area (112). The ratio of the surface area to volume is written like this:

The ratio increases when the surface area increases and the volume decreases (that's maths!).

 

Related organisms that live in different altitudes and different temperatures have different surface area to volume ratios. Bigger surface area means more heat loss.

How does the ratio compare between animals that live in cold environments and animals that live near the equator?

CORRECT ANSWER
Animals that live in hot environments need a higher surface area to volume ratio to let the heat out.
EDDIE SAYS
Having a body with a big surface area in relation to your volume enables your body to release enough heat that is kept inside it. Therefore, organisms in cold environments, like the polar bear, have bulky bodies (high volume) with relatively small surface area to prevent heat loss. The opposite is true for animals in hot environments.
  • Question 8

Here is the picture of a cactus plant.

 

 

Cacti live in the desert. Match their adaptation with how it supports the cacti to survive in the heat. If you can't read the whole sentence in the box, hover your mouse over it.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

long roots
to reach as much water as possibl...
covered by a thick waxy waterproo...
to reduce water loss
has spines instead of leaves
smaller surface area where water ...
spines are spikey
to stop animals eating it to get ...
EDDIE SAYS
Cacti live in hot environments and like other desert organisms they must lose the least amount of water possible. Any adaptations cacti have are related to prevention of water loss or finding more water.
  • Question 9

Observe the leaf in the picture.

 

 

It is from a rainforest plant and it rains heavily in rainforests. Too much water on leaves can damage them. How is this plant adapted to reduce the amount of water that stays on their leaves after the rain? Three answers are correct.

CORRECT ANSWER
their leaves have shiny surfaces so water can slide easily
pointed tips help water fall from the leaf more easily
the leaf is separated in many parts to let water fall down
EDDIE SAYS
Rainforest plants have shiny leaves with pointed tips, separated in many parts to let water fall from the leaves more easily.
  • Question 10

Remember bulky bodies and polar bears from question 7? Look at the penguins in the picture and tick the sentences that apply.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
they huddle together to keep warm
EDDIE SAYS
Huddling together is a way of keeping warm by forming a bulkier shape. It is also a way to protect from predators, that's why antelopes in Africa stay in big groups.
---- OR ----

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