Difference Between Adaptation and Acclimation (With Table)

Living organisms need to have an environment where they can leave, survive and develop the place, it is referred to as natural habitat. The organism needs to acclimate or adapt itself to its new surroundings before it crossed its boundaries. Acclimation and adaptation are two terms that are used to describe the adjustment done by plants and animals when they grow to their natural habitat

Adaptation vs Acclimation

The main difference between Adaptation and acclimation is that Adaptation is an irreversible process. It is a long process. It is a living life form to confirm a new climate over a significant period on the other hand acclimation is a reversible process. It doesn’t take much time to occur. It is a transitory transformation measure that appeared by living creatures in changing climates within a brief time frame.

Adaptation is a natural process that occurs in every type of organism to ensure the continuity and survival of the species. Adaptations are permanent. They are natural and necessary for the survival of the species. Adaptation leads to chemical and physical composition. It is an evolutionary response resulting in genetic changes in the population.

Acclimation refers to a gradual reversible change in a body of an organism to suit better in changes the environment. Acclimation is a temporary change. It only occurs in the lifespan of the organism and doesn’t affect the evolution pattern of its species. It can be demonstrated by comparing genetically similar plants that are growing in a different environment.

Comparison Table Between Adaptation and Acclimation

Parameters of
DefinitionAdaptation is an eternal and long term alteration shown by living organism.Acclimatization is a temporary and short term alteration shown by living organism to the varying environment.
Time takenAdaptation takes a longer time to settle.Acclimation takes a short time to seem
Temporary or permanentPermanent.Temporary
OccurrenceTakes place over many generations.It takes part within the lifetime of an organism.
ChangeIn both physical and chemical configuration of an organism.Only a physical change stirring in the organism.

What is Adaptation?

Adaptation is the type of dynamic evolutionary process. It helps the organism to fit in an environment that enhances its fitness by gradual time. It doesn’t occur in individuals, it occurs in species. Adaptation produces a new phenotypic trait.

 It increases the biological fitness of the population by altering their genetic content. Therefore the proportion is measured through the change in frequency of gene. It occurs in several generations. During evolution, adaption contributes to the environment. Only an adapted organism will survive and reproduced according to the nature rule ‘survival of the fittest. Adaptations are permanent and cannot be reversed.

For example-

  1. Polar bears adapted to their environment by taking: Thick hair to keep warm, white fur to cover up it against the snow when chasing for prey, Dense, piercing claws and teeth to help it catch its prey.
  2. Camel’s ability to survive with very little water in the deserts for long periods.

Adaptation helps the creature to get their foodstuff, reproduce, protect themselves from hunters, deal with geographic features, and survive in weather.

What is Acclimation?

Acclimation is the process by which a creature adjusts its characteristics according to its environment. It is a reversible and slow change to the body, which allows an organism to handle a new or different environment, involving psychological, anatomical adjustment within a single organism.

During acclimation events, an organism gets the use of a new environment by the changes in the climate in its habitat. It occurs in the individual organism and does not bring any genetic changes to the organisms. Acclimation can occur within hours or a week and it happens to not contribute to evolution.

For example-

Offsetting variations that take place in an animal such as rats and mice, when they are preserved under controlled conditions in laboratories.

The set-up of an aquarium for fish is an example. Of how an organism must acclimate. Many types of sea creatures are extremely sensitive. Therefore, it is often recommended that fish be acclimated by being placed in the aquarium water in the bag of its transport water until the temperatures of both sets of water even out.

 Main Difference Between Adaptation and Acclimation

  1. Adaptation is a part of the evolution process whereas Acclimation does not disturb the evolutionary process.
  2. Adaptation changes both the chemical and physical change of an organism brought by changes in habitat while acclimation is a physical reaction made to adjust the changes.
  3. Adaptation takes a longer time to appear however acclimation takes a short time to appear.
  4. Adaptation is a gradual process whereas acclimation is a rapid process.
  5. Adaptation occurs for every type of organism it ensures continuity and survival of the species however acclimation may or might not occur in habitat and if it occurs, it takes a short time for animals and plants to adjust.
  6. Due to adaptation, there is a change in chemical and physical composition while in acclimation only the physical change occurs.


From the above discussion, we can conclude that every living being is required to have a climate where they can thrive and endure.

Adaptation is a generic phase comprising all changes taken by an organism and it takes a longer time to settle acclimation describes adaptive or behavior changes within an organism in response to its natural environment. Adaptation cannot be reversed but acclimatization can be reversed once the former condition is provided.  Adaptation affects the evolutionary process whereas acclimation does not affect the evolutionary process.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mec.12240
  2. https://journals.asm.org/doi/full/10.1128/MMBR.70.1.222-252.2006