• Question: How do animals know when to adapt to a new environment? How do they do this?

    Asked by cbell13 to Jo, Kevin, Louise, Valeria on 20 Jun 2012.
    • Photo: Kevin Mahon

      Kevin Mahon answered on 20 Jun 2012:

      Animals adapt to gradual changes in their environment through natural selection – the animals best suited for the changing environment will survive and those that cannot do not pass on their genes to the next generation.

      In terms of taking an animal and putting it somewhere entirely new – a cage or zoo for instance or a whole new country, this can be a distressing or normal process depending on the species. The ability to quickly adapt to new surroundings is called ‘behavioural flexibility’ and the degree to which an animal is flexible will tell us a lot about well it will survive in new circumstances.

      Good examples of flexible animals are ones that are invasive, like the grey squirrel in Ireland or the european green crab. Inflexible animals, are usually hihgly social or intelligent creatures who can’t cope in new surroundings – examples include chimpanzees and polar bears.

    • Photo: Joanna Cruden

      Joanna Cruden answered on 20 Jun 2012:

      Transportation and not having control of their environments, is a major course of stress for animals but if they have to adapt their survival instinct will always kick in. I hope that it would be the same for humans if it came down to life or death situations