2.3: Culture As An Adaptive Mechanism


An adaptation is any change in the structure or officiate of an organism ( or group of organisms ) that improves its ability to survive and reproduce in its environment. Adaptations occur in response to stressors or changes in the environment in which the organism lives. Stressors can be abiotic ( climate or high altitude ), biotic ( disease ), or social ( war and psychological stress ). All organisms, including humans, have the ability to adapt biologically, which is referred to as biological plasticity. however, what makes humans unique is the extent to which we rely on polish to adapt to our environment .
definition : adaptation
Any alteration in the structure or serve of an organism ( or group of organisms ) that improves its ability to survive and reproduce in its environment.

definition : biological malleability
The ability to adapt biologically in answer to the environment .
definition : stressors
Something that causes strain or tension .

Biological Adaptation

other species rely chiefly on biological adaptation for support in their respective environments. biological adaptations can be short-run, long-run, or genetic. Which character of biological adaptation is activated frequently depends on the badness and duration of stressors in the environment. short-run acclimatization can occur within seconds of exposure to a stressor. This type of answer promptly reverses when the stressor is no longer portray. Imagine stepping out of an air-conditioned building or car into a 90-degree sidereal day. Your torso will quickly begin to perspire in an try to cool your torso temperature and return to homeostasis. When the temperature declines, so will your perspiration. Tanning, which can occur in hours, is another short-run response, in this font, to increased UV-radiation exposure. Tans are generally lost during the months when UV-radiation decreases .
developmental acclimatization occurs during an individual ’ second emergence and development. note that these can not take place once the person is in full grown. There is normally a “ magic time window ” of when developmental acclimatization can occur. This adaptation can take months to years to acquire. One model of this is the effective respiratory system of those who have grown up at senior high school altitudes. Those who were born at high gear altitudes tend to develop larger lung capacities than those who move there belated in life.

A developmental adaptation can occur in answer to cultural stressors vitamin a well. Intentional body contortion has been documented throughout homo history. The ancient Maya elite used cradleboards to reshape the skull. Footbinding in China, now an illegal practice, was considered a check of beauty and enabled girls to find a affluent spouse .
genic adaptations can occur when a stressor is ceaseless and lasts for many generations. The presence of the sickle cell allele in some human populations is one exemplar. Keep in take care that genetic adaptations are environmentally specific. In early words, while a particular gene may be advantageous to have in one environment, it may be damaging to have in another environment. The sickle-cell allele is a genic adaptation in reception to life in an environment where malaria is prevailing. however, for those living in non-malarial environments, it is no retentive advantageous and actually a serious disease .

Cultural Adaptation

A cultural adaption is the cognition or behavior that enables humans or groups to adjust, survive, and boom in their environment. One means humans culturally adapt to their environment is through the use of tools. As mentioned earlier in the chapter, some non-human species do have a fundamental culture as evidenced by their use of tools. Whether it is dolphins using sponges to protect their beaks when hunting fish on the ocean floor, chimpanzees using sticks to “ fish ” for termites, otters using a rock ‘n’ roll to break open a shell or humans hunting with a bow and arrow, the use of tools is a cultural adaptation that improves the species chances of survival in their environment. Humans, however, “ use culture instrumentally … to fulfill their basic biological needs for food, drink, shelter, comfort, and reproduction ” ( Kottak 2012, p. 21 ) vitamin a well as fulfilling basic psychological and aroused needs .
definition : cultural adaptation
The cognition or behavior that enables humans or groups to adjust, survive and boom in their environment.

Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Cultural Adaptations – Tool Use
image 1 : Sea Otter uses a rock to break a blast open, 2008, by Brocken Inaglory under CC BY-SA 3.0.
effigy 2 : pygmy chimpanzee at the San Diego Zoo “ fishing ” for termites, 2005, by Mike R. under CC BY-SA 3.0.
double 3 : Macaca fascicularis aurea using a rock tool, 2013, by Haslam M, Gumert MD, Biro D, Carvalho S, Malaivijitnond S under CC BY.
Image 4 : young man with a Bow and Arrow, Lubwa, Zambia, c1905-1940, by Unknown under Public Domain .
cultural adaptations can occur at any time and may be angstrom elementary as putting on a coating when it is cold or american samoa complicated as engineering, build, and installing a heat system in a build up, or building a distance station for homo habitation. cultural adaptation has enabled humans to survive in harsh environments. however, not all cultural adaptations have been beneficial. While the goal of adaptive traits is to enhance homo ability to be successful and survive in their environment, some traits have become maladaptive . That is they have become more harmful than helpful and could actually threaten the survival of the people. One example is the use of air conditioners. Although air travel conditioners improved our lives and made it easier to live in hot and humid conditions, older air conditioners released chlorofluorocarbons and contributed to the depletion of the ozone level which protects us from harmful ultraviolet rays. Over a long period of time, this would have a veto effect on biography on earth .
Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): Self-portrait of Tracy Caldwell Dyson in the Cupola module of the International Space Station observing the Earth below during Expedition 24, 2010, by NASA/Tracy Caldwell Dyson under Public Domain.

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