The main difference between adaptation and evolution is that the adaptation is the short-term changes of organisms to suit their environment or habitat whereas the evolution is the long-term changes that occur in the genetic level for better functioning and survival. Furthermore, adaptation leads to evolution.
Adaptation and evolution are two processes that occur over time in organisms to better suit their habitats, increasing the rates of survival.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Adaptation
– Definition, Facts, Type of Changes
2. What is Evolution
– Definition, Facts, Micro and macroevolution
3. What are the Similarities Between Adaptation and Evolution
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Adaptation and Evolution
– Comparison of Key Differences
Adaptation, Evolution, Macroevolution, Microevolution, Natural Selection
What is Adaptation
Adaptation is the emergence of new characteristics in order to best suit the changes in the environment or habitat. All adaptations have gone through natural selection and only the best-suited changes are selected. Moreover, all adaptations arise in the phenotypic level under the influence of environmental factors on the expression of the existing genes.
The adaptive traits can be either structural, physiological or behavioral. The physical features of a particular organism such as the shape, color, body covering or internal organization are the structural changes. Camouflage is an example of structural adaptation.
On the other hand, the growth and development and homeostasis are the physiological characters that can be changed through adaptations. Patterns of vocalization, searching for food, and mating patterns are the behavioral features that can be changed. Mimicry is an example of behavioral changes that serve as adaptations to the environment.
What is Evolution
Evolution is the change in the heritable characteristics of an organism over successive generations. It was first fully expounded by Charles Darwin. During evolution, organisms diversify, starting from a common ancestor. The small scale evolution is called microevolution, and natural selection, mutation, gene flow, and genetic drift are the four patterns of it.
The large-scale evolution is called macroevolution; stasis, character change, speciation, and extinction are the four patterns of it.
- Stasis – Some species did not change over a long period of time and they are called live fossils.
- Character change – The development of analogous and homologous structures
- Speciation – The emergence of new species due to the geographical or reproductive isolation of populations
- Extinction – Many species have become extinct during evolution.
Similarities Between Adaptation and Evolution
- Adaptation and evolution are two types of changes that occur in organisms over time.
- Both help organisms to better suit their environment.
Difference Between Adaptation and Evolution
Adaptation refers to a form or structure modified to fit a changed environment. Evolution refers to a change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations.
These definitions provide the basic difference between adaptation and evolution. Related to this, there are many other differences between adaptation and evolution.
Degree of the Change
While adaptation is a change in the phenotypic level, evolution is a change in the genotypic level.
Adaptation is a short-term change while evolution is a long-term change.
Whereas adaptation occurs under the effect of environmental conditions, evolution occurs due to speciation.
Although adaptation is a reversible change, evolution is an irreversible change, which occur over generations.
Furthermore, adaptation results in phenotypic variation among species while evolution results in new species.
In brief, adaptation is the development of beneficial characteristics to fit their habitat while evolution is the long-term process of changing the characters of organisms that occur in the genetic level. The main difference between adaptation and evolution is the type and the effectiveness of the changes.
1. “camouflage-adaptation-lizard-1591469” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “Gene flow” By Tsaneda – Gene_flow.jpg at wikieducator (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
3. “Figure 20 02 01” By CNX OpenStax – (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia