How do adaptations enable organisms to reduce competition for food and other resources?

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Adaptation can be thought of as a set of special characteristics that may allow a living organism to successfully live in a particular environment. Adaptation allows an organism to adjust to the particular set of conditions it is exposed to and survive successfully.

An animal may adapt to a different food, something other than the food which is consumed by all the other animals of the region. This adaptation will allow it to consume something that is not eaten by its competitors, thus allowing it to be the most significant consumer of that particular food. An animal may also adapt to consume the same food more efficiently. For example, a bird may adapt by developing a longer beak thus allowing it to consume nectar, ensuring it a dedicated food supply. All the other birds with smaller beaks will be unable to consume the nectar and will be outcompeted. Another adaptation could be a heightened sense of smell that may allow an adapted animal to find food faster than its competitors.

Similarly, an animal may adapt to different resources and would be able to outcompete other animals in that region.

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Competition is reduced any time an organism adapts to survive within a niche that is not being used by others within its environment. A niche refers to the way in which an organism fits into its environment and may include an organism’s habitat, diet, and reproductive processes. Organisms acquire their niches via natural selection. The niche of an organism is largely based on the evolution of an organism’s physiology, behavior, and morphology.

Diet will be used as an example to display how adaptations can reduce competition.

Adaptation and evolution occurs on populations. If there is competition for a food source, individuals that survive will be those that are strong enough to eat the current food of interest. Individuals within the population that learn to eat a different a food or foods will also survive. Since the “alterative eaters” found a niche that was not exhausted within the environment in which they live, they are more likely to survive than the organisms that continue to compete and fight over the original food-of-choice. Many of these “alternative eaters” will, therefore, survive long enough to have offspring. 

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