Introduction to Environmental Acclimation

Good day, one of the weekly series I want to start is one on habitats and environments because this is such an important topic regarding species and the oft confusing concepts surrounding speciation.

Islands are an incredible place to explore environmental acclimation due to isolation of the species and the variety of habitats in close proximity to each other.

The habitat or environment where an individual or population lives is considered to be one of the strongest influences on breeding or genetic selection. The environmental pressures created by heat or cold, dry or wet, and rocky or fine soils all help to determine what characteristics will do best in that environment. For example, in an open environment, running fast could be an important trait for both prey and predator.

Micro-habitats further refine the traits in a population. For example, a mountain habitat would typically have a southern slope which receives more sun than the northern slope. They can also have areas of steep slopes or even vertical walls. Depending on the prevailing wind conditions, one side may be quite moist while the other side is quite dry. Each of these conditions would favor a different characteristic within a plant or animal kind.

The concept of adaptive radiation is an evolutionary concept in which a species enters a new environment and, through such processes as mutation and natural selection, develops into new species up to and including possessing new forms and features. Therefore, this can include both micro- and macro- evolutionary changes. A term is needed which can express that small changes, such as skin or flower color, can be affected by the environment which does not allow nor require the formation of new genetic information. I put forward Environmental Acclimation.

Environmental Acclimation is a selection of traits favorable for a given environment and is the primary cause of natural breeding and speciation. Mating selections are typically based on appearance, the phenotype, which in turn select the genetics behind those traits, the genotype. This is similar to the evolutionary process of natural selection; however it can occur rapidly because already existing traits are chosen and no new genetic material must form over time.

For example, a furry animal that has the genetic variability for long, medium, or short length fur is carried to several different environments and released. Within a hot climate short haired animals will do better. Similarly, in a cold environment long-haired animals will do better. In a wet environment oily-furred animals will do better because it keeps the skin dry. Over time, the genes for a specific fur type are chosen and become common while the other gene type(s) will decrease or disappear. During this process, no new genetic information was needed nor was any change in form observed. The animal population simply acclimated to the environmental pressures.

As mentioned earlier, rapid diversification or speciation within the kinds would be expected after the flood because the entire world was now a large landscape of new environments. The emerging animals would migrate and acclimate. It would happen rapidly as every generation would see breeds forming within their kinds.