Fitness Trade-offs

How do fitness trade-offs relate to the structures and physiology of animals? Give examples.

Fitness trade-offs are the result of any organism’s finite energy capacity. Although an animal can adapt to its environment, it cannot maximize every trait. A trade-off, then, is when an organism increases their proficiency in one area at the sake of another trait.

Examples of this would be sweat glands. Although sweating allows an animal to cool off, they now risk the chance of becoming dehydrated. The beak of a raptor is another example. Although its large size and sharp edges may be useful in capturing and eating large prey, it is not necessarily the best tool for weaving a nest. Even the weight of an animal could be considered a fitness trade-off. Although lighter animals tend to have the ability to move quicker, they also tend to have low amounts of body protection. In contrast, heavily armed animals, such as tortoises, are weighed down by this protection and have reduced motility.



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