Earth is known to have around 3,00,000 plant species. Like animals, plant life is also dependent on various fundamental necessities for their endurance. Light, water, air, soil, nutrients and suitable climatic conditions are compulsory for growth and other life processes. But every habitat does not provide them with all of these necessities. Therefore, they have to evolve and adopt certain behavior or structural modifications. These physiological, behavioral and morphological patterns are adopted to as a survival and to thrive in unfavorable and harsh conditions. Let’s see how these adaptation in plants are implemented.
How Do Plants Adapt?
Adaptation is the evolution or approaches exhibited by an organism to ensure its survival. It supports life even in bleak conditions. Often, adaptations are unique to a particular area and these adaptations will not be effective in another region. This explains why some plants and animals are unique to a region and why they cannot exist elsewhere. For instance, plants adapt in the following regions in the below mentioned waves.
Forests are usually packed with small grasses, big and tall trees. Hence, trees are dominant in such areas and often, they provide stiff competition for small shrubs and herbs. They cover small plants and block the sunlight from reaching the ground. They even absorb nutrients from the soil. In such conditions, ground level plants choose to begin the spring season for their flowering because, during autumn, trees shed their leaves. Few are adapted to carry out photosynthesis in low light.
Plants which live in water ecosystem like lakes, rivers, ponds, bogs etc. face many problems like less oxygen, light intensity, soil, and nutrients. These are resolved by their flexibility to float in water streams. Some develop in way that their roots are in the water, but they partially emerge from the surface of the water for efficient photosynthesis. Food, nutrients, and air are absorbed through modified stems and roots.
Deserts are too dry and hot to imagine life in them. Despite these arid conditions, few plants have adapted to survive there. Succulents are such plants which can store water in their modified stems and leaves. The spines on cacti also help prevent excess water loss. Some have long deep roots which can absorb water from the ground. Some grow short to save energy wasted on growth.
Tundra represents the coldest habitats on earth like Antarctic, Arctic and Alpine regions. Sedges, dwarf shrubs, grasses and certain mosses and lichens are some plant species found in these terrains. The special features of tundra plants include short stature (not more than 12 inches), hairy parts, dark color etc. Sometimes, trees hold on to dead leaves for insulation. Every feature has its own boon and help them to get more nutrients from the ground, sunlight and protect them from extreme cold weather.
Another threat for plants is Herbivores. Since plants are the producers, nearly all secondary consumers depends on them for sustenance. Therefore, to prevent predation, plants developed thorns and spines. Some are even poisonous and irritating and they might leave an unpleasant taste in the mouths of the consumers.
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