Honolulu Zoo Society : Survival! Adaptations

Plants Adapt to their Habitats

Topic Overview

Begin the Lesson

Plants are found on every continent from the icy, windy Aortic to the hot, dry desert. They live in a wide variety of environments and have many different ways of living successfully in their habitats. These ways are called adaptations.  Similar to animals, plant adaptations may be structural (physical) or behavioral.

Whole Class Introduction to the Lesson

You will need at least one computer with Internet connectivity and a projection device, a classroom with more than one computer, or access to a computer lab.  This introduction will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

To introduce the WebLesson, read Cactus Hotel, by Brenda Z. Guiberson aloud to the students.

Sample Questions:

  • Can you imagine the giant cactus, the main character in this book, serving as a hotel in the desert?
  • What did you learn from this story?
  • Would you like to live in the desert?

Next follow up with http://www.handsontheland.org/grsa/resources/curriculum/elem/lesson28.htm

This Web page includes solid information in addition to a plant habitat game and a plant adaptation search.

As part of the introduction, you may want to review some of the glossary terms in advance of students going online. At this point you can launch the WebLesson as whole-class activity using a projection device, or you can assign students to work individually or in teams in a computer lab.


WebLesson Sites
Plants are an extremely important part of our world. Without plants, nothing could live on our planet. Most plants live in areas with very specific climate conditions, such as temperature and rainfall patterns, that enable them to thrive. Like animal, all plants have special adaptations that help them survive.
Pretend you are an alien explorer who has just landed on Earth in the United States. Your job is to describe the plants that grow in the different areas of the country where you have landed.
Lesson Pages
Plants around the World
Rich Media
Build An Online Habitat
Rich Media
Adaptations - Plant Adaptations - Desert Plant Adaptations
Rich Media
Under the Hawaiian Sky - Adaptive Radiation
Conclusion & Project
Plants are vital to our world. Without them, we could not exist. However, every plant cannot grow everywhere. Plants have adapted in order to survive and, hopefully, even thrive, in a specific place. Adaptations are special features that enable a plant (or animal) to live in a particular habitat. Individual plants may be found in one area that could not survive in another place. For example, you would not be able to find any cactus living in the snowy Arctic.
Choose one habitat that is found in the United States: rainforest (such as in Hawaii), desert, temperate forest, grassland, coastal, or taiga (as in Alaska). Write about the plants that you would find in that habitat. Describe some of the adaptations that make those particular plants able to survive those environmental conditions.
aquatic - pertaining to water
biomes - regions of the world with similar climates, animals, and plants
deciduous - refers to trees or shrubs that shed their leaves each year
environment - the external surroundings and conditions in which a plant or animal lives
genera - major subdivision of a biological family or subfamily in the classification of organisms consisting of more than one species
icon - symbol of something
lianas - any of the various usually woody vines especially of tropical rain forests
mangroves - tropical evergreen trees or shrubs that grow in marshes or along shores
mutation - change of the DNA sequence within a gene or chromosome of an organism resulting in the creation of a new character or trait not found in the parental type before it
perennials - plants that are able to live for several or many years
species - group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding
specimen - an individual sample of an animal, plant, mineral, etc. which is used as an example
surroundings - the area around you
survive - live
vegetation - plant material
ward off - keep predators from getting to you