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Koala's And Eucaliptus Trees Adaptation To Their Environment

1395 words - 6 pages

An adaptation is the characteristic of an organism that makes it likely to survive. There are three types of adaptations: structural, physiological, and behavioural. Structural adaptations are physical features, physiological adaptations are related to the internal body functions, while behavioural adaptations refer to how organisms respond to stimuli (Beavis 2014). This paper will discuss some adaptations that help koalas and eucalyptus trees survive in their environments.

Part One: Koala
(Pet Setter n.d.)
Koalas, an Australian native, have the scientific name, ‘Phascolarctos cinereus’, meaning 'ash grey pouched bear.' They are sometimes called koala bears due to their resemblance to bears. However, they are not related to each other. Instead, koalas are related to other marsupials, such as kangaroos and wombats. Being a marsupial means that the females have a pouch for newborns. The Australian Koala Foundation estimated that less than 80000 koalas are left in Australia (Australian Koala Foundation n.d.).
Koalas are arboreal mammals, meaning that they live in trees. They live in eucalyptus trees and feed on their leaves, which are poisonous to most animals. A koala’s home is decided by two main factors: the presence of other koalas and eucalyptus trees. They can eat other tree leaves, but that usually occurs only when eucalyptus leaves are absent (Crawford n.d.).

Wild koalas are found mainly along Australian East Coast and South Australia as shown on the map.

(Australian Koala Foundation n.d.)

Structural Adaptations
Koalas have pear shaped bodies that help in balancing and positioning themselves in tree forks. They also have reduced tails and long limbs that help in sitting and climbing. Their rumps have more fur compared to other body parts to give a cushioning effect. Another adaptation that has been noted is that koalas in the south are larger and have thicker fur when compared to their northern counterparts. This is said to be due to the south having colder winters (Australian Koala Foundation n.d.).
To get an easy grip during climbing, sitting, and eating, koalas have unique paws, as can be seen in the picture. The front paws are used mainly for gripping while the hind paws are structured for efficient grooming (Crawford n.d.). Koala fur also acts as a raincoat by repelling moisture when it rains (Australian Koala Foundation n.d.).

(Crawford n.d.)

Physiological Adaptations
Koalas have curved spines to allow them to lounge comfortably on trees. Their nose is highly attuned to smells. It is said that they can determine the toxic level of leaves just by sniffing them. They also have a small brain which leads to a low metabolism as little energy is needed to run the body functions (Crawford n.d.).
Koalas have large ears because they need sensitive hearing due to living far apart from other koalas. It also allows them to hear predators on the ground. Due to their low metabolism, koalas have a lower...

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