Surviving adverse conditions

Many environmental conditions, such as temperature, go beyond those that an organism is able to withstand and would halt normal metabolic activity. Organisms have adapted to avoid or survive in these adverse conditions.

A common way in which an organism can survive during adverse conditions is by reducing their metabolic activity through dormancy. This is part of some organisms’ life cycle to allow survival when the cost of continued normal metabolic activity would be too high.

Dormancy is a period when an organism’s metabolic activity decreases and allows for the conservation of energy.

During dormant periods there is a decrease in the following:

  • organisms metabolic rate
  • heart rate
  • breathing rate
  • body temperature

There are two types of dormancy:

  • Predictive – where the organism enters dormancy before the onset of the adverse conditions.
  • Consequential – where the organism enters dormancy after the onset of the adverse conditions.