Where can I find information about plant and animal adaptation?

Senior Primary

(Years 5-8)

Colour photo of a lizard on top of a rock.

Image: Reptile Nature Lizard by dimitrisvetsikas1969 on pixabay.

Entry last updated: 25/05/22


Adaptation is an evolutionary process where a plant or an animal becomes suited to living in a particular habitat. These are changes that take place over many generations through natural selection. Changes may be physical or behavioural.

How adaptation works

Adaptation is caused by evolution. Evolution is a process of change which makes plants and animals more able to survive in the habitat they live in. These websites have more information about how adaptation works.

Britannica School

This is part of the EPIC databases. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It's put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

  • Select a level eg Primary.
  • Do a keyword search eg adaptation.
  • Select the link called adaptation.
  • You can also select the type of resource by clicking on one of the buttons on the left of the screen.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Science In Context

This is another EPIC database which has a really clear general explanation of adaptation.

  • You can search using the keyword 'adaptation' or select View All in the Biology box to find the Adaptation topic.
  • There are links to related resources which are useful for further research.

Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!

National Geographic

The National Geographic website also has information about adaptation with examples too.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, e.g [adaptation]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Plant & animal adaptation

Adaptations are special features that help plants and animals to live in a particular environment. These websites have information about plant and animal adaptation.


DKfindout! is from the DK publishers who publish many reference books. Here there is a video explaining animal adaptation.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.


This is a kids website which has useful information about plant and animal adaptation.

Tips: Some websites have advertisements (or ads) which ask us to buy something or tell us to ‘click here’. It’s best to ignore these ads and focus on the information we’re looking for.

Adaptation in New Zealand

If you are looking for information on how different plants and animals have adapted to live in New Zealand's unique environment, then the following websites are useful.

The Science Learning Hub

This is an excellent websites to look at for the answers to all kinds of scientific questions. There are articles, activities and videos.

Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

Department of conservation

The Department of Conservation (DOC for short) is the government website about preserving the natural and historical sites of New Zealand. You can see it’s a government site by looking at the About us or Contact links at the top of the page.

  • This site has information on individual plants and animals as well as an article on Alpine habitats which covers the adaptations plants and animals need to live in that environment.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.


There are a number of books about adaptation, have a look in your local public or school library to see what they have.

Some suggest titles are:

Plant and animal adaptations by Joseph Midthun.

Stinky skunks and other animal adaptations by Anna Claybourne.

SCIS no: 1888925 

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