Student Notes: Animal Traits and Behaviors that Enhance Survival What is a trait?

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Student Notes:

Animal Traits and Behaviors that Enhance Survival

What is a trait?

A characteristic of some organism like how it looks or acts (can be inherited or learned.)

What is an inherited trait?

A trait that is passed down from parent to offspring (hair color, eye color, etc.)

Give an example of a learned behavior and an instinct for one of the animals in the pictures.

Elephants instinctively will search for water and follow the older elephants, but learn where and

will return.

List 3 advantages to living in herds and packs:

  1. Protection

  2. Hunting

  3. Mates in the pack or herd

List 1 reason that an animal would live a solitary life:

Not enough resources (food, shelter, etc.)

Why do predator animals live in herds, packs, or social groups?

Hunting and reproducing
Why do prey animals live in them?


What is natural selection? The gradual process in which the better adapted individuals will survive and reproduce—passing on those better traits

What is an evolutionary adaptation?

Change that occurs over a long period of time

Types of Adaptations 1. Structural (how it looks)

2. behavioral (how it acts )

3. physiological (how it works)

Describe and give an example of each type of adaptation:

  1. Structural Adaptations: - involves some part of an animal’s body

    • Example: teeth, body coverings, hollow bones, webbed feet

Protective coloration (also known as camouflage)

Example: polar bear in snow, brown bunny in woods

  • Disruptive colorationbreaks up the shape and destroys the outline of an object hindering detection Examples: tiger with stripes in tall grass, leopard spots

  • Countershading- top and bottom are different colors to blend in different environments

Examples: frog (brown on top and light on bottom) or sharks/whales, etc.

  • Mimicry- allows one animal to look, sound, or act like another

Example: coral and king snake, monarch and viceroy butterfly, moth with spots like eyes

  1. Behavioral Adaptations: Activities that help an animal survive (can be learned or instinctive)


An animal or group of animals moves from one region to another and then back again

Example: birds flying south for the winter


Deep sleep in which an animal’s body temperature drops, body activities are slowed to

conserve energy

Example: bears, bats, etc.

Estivation: same as hibernation but for hot, dry weather conditions

Examples: snakes, lizards, etc. in a desert

Adaptation vs. Mutation:

What is a Mutation?

A change in the DNA sequence/gene creating a new or different genetic trait

How can a mutation become an adaptation?

If the mutation (change) allows for the organism to survive and reproduce, it may become a new trait and may create a new species with those successful traits

What is selective breeding?

The process of breeding plants and animals for particular traits

Example: horses for speed, cows or chickens that grow faster, plants that yield more or bigger crops

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