Difference Between Adaptation and Evolution (With Table)

Have you ever thought of how the giraffes got their long necks? Or how do polar bears get a thick white layer of fur? Well, these are the questions you do have been asked in your class from your curious scientist. Having said that, these examples are nothing but how living beings adapt to suit the changing environment. Yet, to understand this you’d need to dive out of the differences existing between adaptation and evolution.

Adaptation vs Evolution 

The main difference between Adaptation and Evolution is that adaptation refers to organisms’ short-term modifications to suit their environment or habitat, whereas evolution refers to long-term genetic changes.

Adaptation may be defined as the emergence of new characteristics to suit the changes in the environment or the habitat. All adaptations visually go through natural selection and only the best-suited changes are adopted. Camouflage is one example of structural adaptation. The adaptive threads within an organism can be structural, physiological, or behavioral.

While evolution can be defined as a change in an organism’s heritable characteristics from generation to generation. In organisms, there are two forms of evolution that occur. Microevolution refers to small-scale evolution, whereas macroevolution refers to large-scale evolution. Natural selection underpins the entire evolutionary process.

Comparison Table Between Adaptation and Evolution

Parameters of ComparisonAdaptationEvolution
DefinitionAdaptation may be defined as the emergence of new characteristics to suit the changes in the environment or the habitat.While evolution may be defined as the change in the heritable characteristic of an organism throughout the successive generation.
Change The term “adaptation” refers to the process of transformation at the phenotypic level.Evolution, on the other hand, is a process of change at the genotypic level.
Long or Short TermAdaptation is typically a temporary shift.On the other hand, evolution is a long-term transformation.
Process of FormationAdaptation is a rapid process and can be even noticed in the same generation.While evolution is a very slow process and takes multiple generations to see the evident changes.
Reversible or Irreversible ProcessThe changes brought by the adaptation are reversible in nature.While the changes brought by evolution are permanent and irreversible.

What is an Adaptation?

In simple words, adaptation is mainly the adjustments of the organism to its environment in order to either improve its chances of survival in that environment. The process of adaptation is critical for the survival of all living species. Without this mechanism, organisms will be unable to adapt to changing environments and will be wiped out.

Adaptation can take place in variety within the organism. Some of these changes take place through genetics, dispersal, and other respective changes. The adaptation of some plants to survive in the desert is a good illustration of adaptation. However, because deserts are hot environments, this is an example of structural behaviour.

The migration of animals is another example of behavioural adaptation. The shift that occurs at the phenotypic level is referred to as adaptation. The changes brought by the adaptation are reversible in nature. Also, the changes brought by the adaptation are reversible in nature.

What is Evolution?

In simple words, the main focus of evolution is the organism’s growth and development. It can also be defined as  the theory of how the organism has grown and developed from the past. One of the prominent examples of evolution is how the cellphone has changed over time.

It reflects the adaptation of the organism to the changing environment that results in altered genes, noble threads, and new species. Evolution theory is based on the concept that all species of living organisms are connected with each other and they do change with time. However, evolution is very unpredictable, and eviction might take several years.

To put it another way, it is a gradual and steady process. Yet, evolution has proved to be a powerful process that leads to rapid changes in the features or the attributes of an organism. Also, evolution is the change that occurs at the genotypic level. And, the changes brought by evolution are permanent and irreversible.

Main Differences Between Adaptation and Evolution

  1. Adaptation is mainly the adjustments of the organism to its environment in order to either improve its chances of survival in that environment. While evolution is mainly the growth and development process of the organism. It can also be defined as  the theory of how the organism has grown and developed from the past.
  2. Adaptation is a rapid process and can be even noticed in the same generation. While evolution is a very slow process and takes multiple generations to see the evident changes.
  3. The adaptation usually happens as a result of environmental factors. While evolution occurs as a result of speciation.
  4. The shift that occurs at the phenotypic level is referred to as adaptation. Evolution, on the other hand, is the change that occurs at the genotypic level.
  5. The changes brought by the adaptation are reversible in nature. While the changes brought by evolution are permanent and irreversible.

Conclusion

To summarise, physical or behavioural features that enable an organism to thrive in a changing environment are known as adaptations. Genetic variants are primarily passed down through the organism as a result of mutation or natural selection. This mutation, on the other hand, is a quick genetic change that can be either random or unintentional.

While evolution, on the other hand, when inheritable features become regular or rare species, this occurs. These heritable modifications can be non-random as a result of natural selection or random as a result of genetic drift.

Lastly, as a closing note remember all living things are bound to change with time in order to survive in the changing environment. Yet, for the organisms to adapt to the changing environment, it does take a lot of time to evident the changes that are taking place.

References

  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2411715
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959437X16301058
  3. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/656220