Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford


  • Santosh Kumar MishraEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1035-1



Acclimatization is the process of physiological adaptation by animals or plants due to changes in climatic or environmental conditions.

The process of adjustment of cells or organisms in new environmental conditions including temperature, humidity, photoperiod, and other climatic conditions is called Acclimatization. In order to sustain themselves, during this process, organisms tend to adjust their morphological and biochemical properties in response to new environmental conditions. Depending on the natural characteristics and types of adaptation, the time taken for Acclimatization shows a lot of variation in different organisms ranging from hours to months in some to over a lifetime in others.

Acclimatization is a well-coordinated phenotypic response against environmental stresses that gradually diminishes or lessens relatively upon removal of stressors. Acclimatization occurs in two different phases; i.e., acute stress response and chronic stress response. The acute phase Acclimatization response is under homeostatic regulation and is also known as short-term response. On the contrary, chronic phase response is under homeorhetic regulation and also known as long-term response. When chronic stress persists over several generations, response due to Acclimatization becomes genetically stable and the animal is adapted to the new environmental conditions (Collier et al. 2018). Acclimatization in humans depends on various environmental conditions such as exposure to heat and other climatic conditions. Survival of humans requires significant and increased reliance on these mechanisms (Hanna and Tait 2015).

Climate change is a fundamental challenge for organisms as it deeply and pervasively affects the way they live in their habitats. Climate change not only affects reproduction but also plays a significant role in limiting adaptation activities. Biochemical and physiological changes happening during adaptation are regulated by the change in temperature and gene expression. During Acclimatization in the cold environment, cellular and metabolic changes are observed, which include increased formation of excessive amount of sugars, soluble proteins, organic acids, new protein variants, and change in lipid composition of membranes (Hughes and Dunn 1990). The increase in temperature beyond the average for a number of days changes the adaptation capabilities. Heat waves strongly affect human activities as well as the health and productivity of animals (Pasqui and Di Giuseppe 2019).

Transportation and induction of animals from their adopted conditions to new and unfamiliar conditions are stressful events that result in adverse effects in the general health of animals. The adaptation against these stressful conditions causes several biochemical changes in the animals that allow animals to stabilize in new environmental conditions in terms of physiological and nutritional changes.

Plants are constantly exposed to biotic and abiotic stresses that reduce their productivity. Plant responses to these stresses are complex in nature and involve physiological and cellular adaptations. It is pertinent to mention that biotic and abiotic stresses also play a significant and positive effect on plant performance in terms of growth, cellular metabolic activity, and adaptability by reducing the susceptibility to stress to a limited extent (Rejeb et al. 2014). Interaction between low temperature and other environmental conditions, e.g., photoperiod and availability of water play a significant role in the Acclimatization of organisms (Pan et al. 1994). Low temperature exposure may alter the growth, habit, and germination of the plants. Acclimatization of plants due to freezing stress is a complex process and the inheritance of frost tolerance is mutagenic in nature (Hughes and Dunn 1996).



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BiotechnologyIMS Engineering CollegeGhaziabadIndia