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Over 8.7 million species are found on Earth, with some thriving in the most hostile environments on the planet. This is thanks to the adaptations they have evolved over millions of years.

Stage 4 Science and Technology 

  • SC4-14LW A student relates to the structure and function of living things to their classification, survival and reproduction  
  • SC4-15LW A student explains how new biological evidence changes people's understanding of the world

Stage 5 Science and Technology 

  • SC5-14LW A student analyses interactions between components and processes within biological systems 

Stage 6 Biological Diversity 

  • BIO11-10 A student describes biological diversity by explaining the relationships between a range of organisms in terms of specialisation for selected habitats and evolution of species 

Key Inquiry Questions

  • How do adaptations increase the organism’s ability to survive? 
  • Conduct practical investigations, individually or in teams, or use secondary sources to examine the adaptations of organisms that increase their ability to survive in their environment, including: structural adaptations, physiological adaptations, behavioural adaptations 
  • Literacy capability 
  • Numeracy capability 
  • Information and Communication Technology capability 
  • Critical and Creative Thinking capability 
  • Personal and Social capability 
  • Ethical Understanding capability 
  • Intercultural Understanding capability. 

How to use this resource in the classroom 

Download the Curriculum Map for suggested teaching and learning activities for each syllabus outcome.


Additional activities & classroom resources: 


Extension activities (suitable for Stage 5-6 students): 

  • Investigate the Rock Pocket Mice case study further by modelling changes in the Rock Pocket Mice population in this simulation [Website link] [Download Teacher Guide
  • Engage students in formative assessment using the Interactive Assessment for Natural Selection and Adaptation, centred on the Rock Pocket Mice case study [Website link
  • Investigate another case study of Natural Selection and evolved traits using this simulation and game [Website link
  • Explore the origins of muscles, nerves, and other animal adaptations through a study of the fascinating phylum Cnidaria [Website Link] [Download Teacher Resource


Assessment opportunities 

1. Plant adaptation survey 

Survey for plant adaptations in your school [Activity Sheet]. This activity is best suited as an assessment tool to be completed once students have used this web resource to learn about plant adaptations to different extreme environments. 

2. Adaptations sensory poster  

Create a sensory poster displaying the adaptations of an animal or plant of their choice living in extreme environments [Activity Sheet].

3. Guess the habitat 

Students use their understanding of structural adaptations to extreme environments to deduce the habitat of an unknown animal. Students will then create this environment on Minecraft [Activity Sheet]. 

This activity is best suited as an anchor activity as students explore the other web pages of this resource, or as an assessment tool to be completed once students have used this web resource to learn about adaptations to other environments.


Additional reading for teachers 

  • Australian flora: evolution and adaptation [Website Link
  • No Plants, No Animals – Branch Out Podcast, S01E03 [Podcast Link
  • Rainforest in Australia [Website Link
  • Succulents – Plants for the garden in a changing environment [Website Link
  • Carnivorous Plant Adaptations [Website Link
  • Deceptive and dangerous stingers [Podcast Link
  • Climate change and future-proofing plants [Podcast Link
  • Bold and aggressive behaviour means birds thrive in cities [Website Link
  • Behavioural adaptations of urban-living brush turkeys [Website Link
  • 10 species that are evolving due to the changing climate [Article link