“THORNS… THORNS… EVERYWHERE THORNS…” What is an adaptation? An adaptation is a “characteristic" - morphological, physiological or behavioral - that makes an organism able to survive in their habitat. Adaptations result from a process of natural selection - favorable characteristics that are heritable become more common in successive generations. Adaptations Protection from enemies Motion Food Dealing with the cold or heat In the Botanic Garden of the National Museum of Natural History and Science in Lisbon, one can find different examples of plant adaptations: 10 1 2 3 4 6 5 7 9 8 1. Ceiba crispiflora H.B.K. Silk floss tree The English common name results from the mass of silk-like fibres that cover the seeds and benefit its dispersal. The trunk is covered with prickles preventing animals from climbing and reaching the fruits. The trunk of young specimens are green, enabling the trees to perform photosynthesis during the deciduous period. The trunk also expands at the bottom, due to the retention of water enabling the tree to survive the dry periods. 2. Magnolia grandiflora L. Southern Magnolia The leaves are leathery and coated with wax (shiny) to prevent water loss and facilitate sunlight reflection. When mature, the red seeds hang from fine threads and seed dispersal is usually done by birds and mammals (the seed has to pass through the animal’s stomach to become viable). 3. Arbutus unedo L. Strawberry Tree It’s a Mediterranean species, perfectly adapted to fires which are common in this region. The reserve substances on the base of the trunk allow the plant to survive and sprout after a fire. 4. Pinus pinea L. Stone pine Evergreen species, needle-shaped leaves to avoid the heat and water loss in the summer . It’s a typical plant from sandy soils with a well adapted root system. 5. Dracaena draco L. Drago The Drago has reserve substances at the trunk, as an adaptation to the Macaronesian climate. The aerial roots serve for support. 6. Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill. Indian fig opuntia The leaves are reduced to spines in order to avoid water loss and protect against herbivores. The stem performs photosynthesis and reserves water. Stomata open at night in order to allow the CO2 uptake and water loss only during the cooler part of the 24-hour cycle. 7. Datura aurea During the night the flowers of Datura have an odor that attracts their pollinators: bats. It is a toxic plant as a protection against herbivores. 8. Taxus baccata L. Yew The entire plant is toxic as a form of protection against herbivores. The aril surrounding the seeds is the only non toxic part of the plant, with a sweet taste and viscous touch, allowing the birds to perform the seed dispersal. 9. Ruscus aculeatus This species has cladodes (photosynthetic stem) ending in a spike as a way of protection against herbivores. The leaves are very small in order to reduce the loss of water during the heat. The berry is toxic as a protection against herbivores. Insects are the pollinators and birds are responsible for the seed dispersal. 10. Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich Swamp Cypress The tree grows in swampy areas (hence the name) with mild, warm weather, and it is well anchored by an extensive root system; the base of the trunk is surrounded by unique structures called pneumatophores (cypress knees). These are roots that have emerged from below ground to more easily access the oxygen that is scarce in the flooded soils. These adaptations can only be observed in swampy areas, not in dry environments. In the “Naturalist Collection” exhibition of the National Museum of Natural History and Science in Lisbon, one can find different examples of animal adaptations: Bubo bubo Eurasian Eagle-Owl Night vision and Silent flight, which makes it an effective predator of rabbits and other small vertebrates. Chamaeleo chamaeleon Common Chameleon Camouflage: the eyes move independently, allowing environment observation without moving the head. (the influence of changing color in camouflage is casual) Alimentation/feeding: long tongue (up to 13 cm), fast and sticky tip to trap insects. Erinaceus europaeus Western European Hedgehog Hibernation: Accumulates large fat reserves that allow hibernate (below 10 ° C). Defense: It is a nocturnal animal. It’s body is covered with hair transformed into thorns. When threatened he defends itself by coiling into a ball of spines. Platalea leucorodia Common Spoonbill It has a spoon-shaped beak, to capture prey, maneuvering the beak (semi-open in the sides) of a side to other in shallow waters of estuaries and rivers. Anas platyrhynchos Wild Duck In Portugal, the Wild Duck is a non-migratory bird, because the climate and conditions that remain stable throughout the year, so there's no need to migrate to other regions in search of better conditions. They have webbed toes which facilitate propulsion in the water. They have strong sexual dimorphism: Males have a green head, a white ring around his neck, the back is gray and the breast was of a dark brown tone. Females have a body-tone brown and are usually smaller than males. Phoca vitulina Common seal They have flippers, long tail, that allow swimming. They have a fatty tissue layer under their skins and a dense pelage that helps to maintain body temperature. Balaenoptera physalus Fin Whale Mammal with fusiform body for a better slide into the water and members transformed into flippers for swimming. They have baleen plates that allow her into the filterfeeding process. In order to feed, the whale opens its mouth widely and scoops in dense shoals of prey (such as krill, copepods, small fish), together with large volumes of water. Then it shuts is mouth and presses its tongue against its upper jaw, forcing the water to pass out sideways through the baleen, thus sieving out the prey which it then swallows. Paracentrotus lividus Sea urchin They have the body covered with spines. When it senses light, they cover with shells, pebbles and seaweed, to protect themselves. It’s hard skeleton and cover with thorns is not enough to protect them from some European crabs, starfish, sea and fish. Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet The pied move the tip (thin and bent), side to side to capture small worms in the area of estuaries and rivers. In order to feed "sweeps" continuously the mud with his curved beak.