B4.1 Adaptation to environment

Form and function—Ecosystems
Standard level and higher level: 3 hours

Guiding questions

Linking questions

• How are the adaptations and habitats of species related?
• What causes the similarities between ecosystems within a terrestrial biome?

• What are the properties of the components of biological systems?
• Is light essential for life?

SL and HL
































B4.1.1—Habitat as the place in which a community, species, population or organism lives

A description of the habitat of a species can include both geographical and physical locations, and the type of ecosystem.

B4.1.2—Adaptations of organisms to the abiotic environment of their habitat

Include a grass species adapted to sand dunes and a tree species adapted to mangrove swamps

B4.1.3—Abiotic variables affecting species distribution

Include examples of abiotic variables for both plants and animals. Students should understand that the adaptations of a species give it a range of tolerance.

B4.1.4—Range of tolerance of a limiting factor

Application of skills: Students should use transect data to correlate the distribution of plant or animal species with an abiotic variable. Students should collect this data themselves from a natural or seminatural habitat. Semi-natural habitats have been influenced by humans but are dominated by wild rather than cultivated species. Sensors could be used to measure abiotic variables such as temperature, light intensity and soil pH.

B4.1.5—Conditions required for coral reef formation 

Coral reefs are used here as an example of a marine ecosystem. Factors should include water depth, pH, salinity, clarity and temperature.

B4.1.6—Abiotic factors as the determinants of terrestrial biome distribution

Students should understand that, for any given temperature and rainfall pattern, one natural ecosystem type is likely to develop. Illustrate this using a graph showing the distribution of biomes with these two climatic variables on the horizontal and vertical axes

B4.1.7 -Biomes as groups of ecosystems with similar communities due to similar abiotic conditions and convergent evolution

Students should be familiar with the climate conditions that characterize the tropical forest, temperate forest, taiga, grassland, tundra and hot desert biomes.

B4.1.8—Adaptations to life in hot deserts and tropical rainforest

Include examples of adaptations in named species of plants and animals.

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