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What do you mean by adaptation? Describe adaptations of aquatic organisms (for both plants and animals).

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Changes occuring in structure behaviour, physiolosy and development which are useful to organisms in adjusting themselves favourably to prevailing set of environmental conditions are called adaptations. Adaptations are a means with the help of which organisms thrive in different types of habitats and ecosystem. Adaptive features do not develop all of a sudden. They evolve a long peeriod of time through the process of natural selection. Maternal selection helps in picking up variations already present in the population (pre-adaptations) as well as variations which develop naturally though recombinations and mutations.

The plant which remain permanently in water are called hydrophytes. They may be submerged as partly submerged and have the following adaptation-

(i) They have the presence of aerenchyma charge air spaces in the leaves and petioles which help to other parts including roots located in anaerobic soil. This tissue also provides buoyancy to the plant.

(ii) Elchhornia (water hyacinth) has the presence of inflated petioles which keep the plants floating on the surface of water.

(iii) Roots are poorly developed or absent in free floating hydrophytes like wolfia, salvina and ceratophyllum.

(iv) Various emergent hyrophytes (having leaves projecting above water surface) have a continuous system of air passage which helps the submerged plant organs to exchange gases from the atmosphere through the stomata in the emergent organs.

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