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All organisms need to be successful in their environment. This is a major requirement if they want to live. If an inherited trait, instinct, or physical ability helps a species get more food, find better shelter, evade predators, or have more babies it will aid survival.

What helps crocodiles survive in their environment?


The snowshoe hare has white coloring that helps camouflage it in the snow. Would this same white coloring help it in the jackrabbit’s habitat below?

If you were a hungry eagle and saw the snowshoe hare in this habitat, would you leave the snowshoe hare alone?


A trait, instinct, or physical ability that gives a species an advantage in one environment can actually be a weakness in another environment.

Wild sunflowers grow in often dry mountains. Their small leaves and small flowers use less water. This variation helps them survive in their mountain environment, but in a wet, warm place they would be more successful with big leaves and flowers.

Do it!
Look at the species listed below. Think just about their feet. How do the variations in their feet help them survive in their environment? Then think about a habitat in which they would have trouble surviving. The first one is done for you.


Foot Trait

Home Environment

A Difficult Environment


hard, strong hoof to run and travel in herds

plains and grasslands



Tree Frog


Ground Squirrel


House Fly





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Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 5th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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