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Any of numerous gradual, long-term responses of an individual organism to changes in its environment. The responses are more or less habitual and reversible should conditions revert to an earlier state. These criteria differentiate acclimatization from homeostasis; from growth and development (which cannot be reversed); and from evolutionary adaptation (which occurs in a population over generations). Acclimatization can occur in anticipation of a change and enable organisms to survive conditions beyond their natural experience. Examples include adaptations to seasonal changes and adjustments to changes in altitude.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on acclimatization, visit Britannica.com.