As in the case of so many words used by the biologist and physiologist, the word acclimatization is hard to define. With increases in scientific knowledge and understanding, meanings of words change. Originally the term acclimatization was taken to mean only the ability of human beings, animals, or plants to accustom themselves to new and strange climatic conditions – primarily altered temperature. A person or a wolf moves to a hot climate and is uncomfortable there, but after a time is better able to withstand the heat. But aside from temperature, there are other aspects of climate. A person or an animal may become adjusted to living at higher altitudes than those it was originally accustomed to. At very high altitudes, such as those that aviators may be exposed to, low atmospheric pressure becomes a factor of primary importance. In changing to a new environment, a person may meet new conditions of temperature or pressure, and in addition may have to contend with different chemical surroundings. On high mountains, the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere may be relatively small; in crowded cities, a person may become exposed to relatively high concentrations of carbon dioxide or even carbon monoxide, and in various areas may be exposed to conditions in which the water content of the atmosphere is extremely high or extremely low. Thus, in the case of humans, animals and even plants, the concept of acclimatization includes the phenomena of increased toleration of high or low temperature, of altered pressure, and of changes in the chemical environment.

Let us define acclimatization, therefore, as the process in which an organism or a part of an organism becomes inured to an environment that is normally unsuitable to it or lethal for it. By and large, acclimatization is a relatively slow process. The term should not be taken to include relatively rapid adjustments such as those that our sense organs are constantly making. This type of adjustment is commonly referred to by physiologists as “adaptation.” Thus, our touch sense soon becomes accustomed to the pressure of our clothes and we do not feel them; we soon fail to hear the ticking of a clock; obnoxious odors after a time fail to make much impression on us, and our eyes in strong light rapidly become insensitive.

The fundamental fact about acclimatization is that all animals and plants have some capacity to adjust themselves to changes in their environment. This is one of the most remarkable characteristics of living organisms, a characteristic for which it is extremely difficult to find explanations.

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Paragraph 1

Paragraph 1 Analysis

(1) As in the case of so many words used by the biologist and physiologist, the word acclimatization is hard to define. With increases in scientific knowledge and understanding, meanings of words change

(1) This first sentence sets up the whole thing. The passage will be a discussion of the meaning of acclimatization. First sentences are often topic sentences, and the topic sentence of the first paragraph is often the main idea.

(2) Originally the term acclimatization was taken to mean only the ability of human beings, animals or plants to accustom themselves to new and strange climatic conditions, primarily altered temperature. A person or a wolf moves to a hot climate and is uncomfortable there, but after a time is better able to withstand the heat.

(2) Setting up a contrast: old definition vs. new model. Acclimatization meant getting used to a hotter or colder climate. If you live in Vermont, think of moving to Florida.

(3) But aside from temperature, there are other aspects of climate.

(3) “But” means contrast. That was then, this is now. Old definition vs. new, more encompassing one. The definition of acclimatization is going to expand.

(4) A person or an animal may become adjusted to living at higher altitudes than those it was originally accustomed to. At very high altitudes, such as those that aviators may be exposed to, low atmospheric pressure becomes a factor of primary importance. In changing to a new environment, a person may meet new conditions of temperature or pressure, and in addition may have to contend with different chemical surroundings.

(4) We thought we had the meaning down, but there’s more. Adjusting to temperature is not the only thing that defines acclimatization. Adjusting to altitude and chemicals is also part of the definition.

(5) On high mountains, the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere may be relatively small; in crowded cities, a person may become exposed to relatively high concentrations of carbon dioxide or even carbon monoxide, and in various areas may be exposed to conditions in which the water content of the atmosphere is extremely high or extremely low.

(5) High oxygen vs. low oxygen, high pollution vs. low pollution, high humidity vs. low humidity. People survive by adjusting to all these differing environmental conditions.

(6) Thus, in the case of humans, animals, and even plants, the concept of acclimatization includes the phenomena of increased toleration of high or low temperature, of altered pressure, and of changes in the chemical environment.

(6) The author’s use of “thus” clues us into a main idea statement. We now read that acclimatization includes a broad scope of adjustments to the environment. (Note that this is a different definition than the early definition which only included temperature change adjustments. The new definition goes further.) Old definition vs. new definition.

Paragraph 2

Paragraph 2 Analysis

(1) Let us define acclimatization, therefore, as the process in which an organism or a part of an organism becomes inured to an environment that is normally unsuitable to it or lethal for it.

(1) A new definition, wow! That’s important. Make sure you know the contrast between the old definition (temperature) and the new, improved one (temperature, pressure, chemicals).

(2) By and large, acclimatization is a relatively slow process.

(2) OK—the new definition encompasses a lot more than the old one. But, there are still limits. Now that they have told us what is included, they are going to tell us what is not.

(3) The term should not be taken to include relatively rapid adjustments such as those that our sense organs are constantly making. This type of adjustment is commonly referred to by physiologists as “adaptation.” Thus, our touch sense soon becomes accustomed to the pressure of our clothes and we do not feel them; we soon fail to hear the ticking of a clock; obnoxious odors after a time fail to make much impression on us, and our eyes in strong light rapidly become insensitive.

(3) Another important contrast: fast vs. slow. Acclimatization is slow. It’s what happens when you’ve been spending considerable time in a new environment.

Paragraph 3

Paragraph 3 Analysis

The fundamental fact about acclimatization is that all animals and plants have some capacity to adjust themselves to changes in their environment. This is one of the most remarkable characteristics of living organisms, a characteristic for which it is extremely difficult to find explanations.

First sentences of last paragraphs are usually important, especially when they contain a giveaway phrase such as “fundamental fact.” Keywords: “capacity for change.” The author is summarizing the passage’s main points: acclimatization is a very special ability shared by all animals and plants.
1.What is the passage type?

1.What is the passage type?

Subject: Science
Action: Describe

2. What is each paragraph about?

P1: Acclimatization: more than just temperature
P2: Fast adjustment = adaptation vs. slow adjustment = acclimatization
P3: Characteristic of all living things = Capacity for change

3. What is the organization?

This is a contrast passage. We have: old definition (adjust to temperature) vs. new (adjust to many environmental factors). Two definitions are contrasted

Temperature

Chosen definition is clarified

General idea is summarized

Temperature and more

Slow vs. fast

We can change!

4. What is the Big Idea?
Animals and plants can adjust to their environments in various ways.

5. What is the author’s purpose?
The author wants to set the record straight by introducing a more nuanced definition of an important term, acclimatization.

Explanations

1. According to the reading selection, all animals and plants

(A) have an ability for acclimatization.
(B) can adjust to only one change in the environment at a time.
(C) are successful in adjusting themselves to changes in their environments.
(D) can adjust to natural changes in the environment but not to artificially induced changes.
(E) that have once acclimatized themselves to an environmental change can acclimatize themselves more rapidly to subsequent changes.

Type: Detail of the passage
(A) The beginning of the last paragraph states that “The fundamental fact about acclimatization is that all animals and plants have some capacity to adjust themselves to changes in their environment.” Therefore we know that all animals and plants have the ability for acclimatization. Choices (B), (D), and (E) are wrong because the passage just doesn’t say anything to support these statements. In fact, in the case of (D), it actually contradicts what we learned in the passage: that it is possible to acclimate to artificial changes, such as pollution. Choice (C) is incorrect because it’s going further than the passage takes us. The passage says all living things have the capacity for change, but doesn’t state that all animals and plants always succeed in adjusting to all changes in all environments.

2. It can be inferred from the reading selection that:

(A) every change in the environment requires acclimatization by living things.
(B) plants and animals are more alike than they are different.
(C) biologists and physiologists study essentially the same things.
(D) the explanation of acclimatization is specific to each plant and animal.
(E) as science develops, the connotation of terms may change.

Type: Inference
(E) The third sentence in paragraph 1 tells us that the term acclimatization originally meant an organism could adjust to temperature changes. Later, in the last sentence of paragraph 1, we learn that the term now refers to an organism’s ability to adjust to changes in temperature, pressure and chemical environment. Choices (A), (B), (C), and (D) are incorrect because one cannot infer any of these statements from the passage. Plants and animals are more alike than they are different? Huh? Carrots and cats have more similarities than differences? Seems doubtful, but in any case, all that matters here is that the passage doesn’t address this.

3. According to the reading selection, acclimatization:

(A) is similar to adaptation.
(B) is more important today than it was formerly.
(C) involves positive as well as negative adjustment.
(D) may be involved with a part of an organism but not with the whole organism.
(E) is more difficult to explain with the more complex present-day environment than it was formerly.

Type: Definition of a term or phrase
(A) Acclimatization and adaptation are both forms of adjustment. Accordingly, these two processes are similar. The difference between the two terms, however, is brought out in the second sentence in the second paragraph. Don’t let this distinction throw you off. No, acclimatization and adaptation are not the same, but they are similar. Though the passage never overtly states this fact, it can be inferred from the description of adaptation that it is similar to acclimatization. Choice (D) is incorrect because the passage does not say anything about the parts of the organism versus the whole. The first line of the second paragraph says that the whole organism, or a part of it, may change to suit a new environment, but not that either must take place. Choices (B), (C), and E are incorrect because the passage simply doesn’t indicate that any of these choices are true.

4. By inference from the reading selection, which one of the following would NOT require the process of acclimatization?

(A) an ocean fish placed in a lake
(B) a shallow diver making a deep dive
(C) an airplane pilot making a high-altitude flight
(D) a person going from daylight into a darkened room
(E) a businessman moving from Denver, Colorado, to New Orleans, Louisiana

Type: Inference
(D) A person going from daylight into a darkened room is an example of adaptation, not acclimatization. See the second through fourth sentences in paragraph two, where the author describes the definition of adaptation. Choices (A), (B), (C), and E all require the process of acclimatization, so they are incorrect. An ocean fish placed in a lake (A) is a chemical change. Choices (B), (C), and (E) are all pressure changes. Acclimatization, according to the new definition in the passage, deals with both chemical and pressure changes.

5. According to the passage, a major distinction between acclimatization and adaptation is that acclimatization:

(A) is more important than adaptation.
(B) is relatively slow and adaptation is relatively rapid.
(C) applies to adjustments while adaptation does not apply to adjustments.
(D) applies to terrestrial animals and adaptation to aquatic animals.
(E) is applicable to all animals and plants and adaptation only to higher animals and man.

Type: Detail of the passage
(B). See the third and fourth sentences of paragraph two: “The term should not be taken to include relatively rapid adjustments such as those that our sense organs are constantly making. This type of adjustment is commonly referred to by physiologists as adaptation.” Choices (A), (D), and (E) are incorrect because the passage does not contain any evidence to back up these claims. These are all just made-up distinctions that are never mentioned in the passage, and, remember, the passage is all we have to base our answers upon. Choice (C) is partially correct in that acclimatization does apply to adjustments, but the choice is incorrect because adaptation also applies to adjustments.

6. The word “inured” in the first sentence of paragraph two most likely means

(A) exposed
(B) accustomed
(C) attracted
(D) associated
(E) in love with

Type: Definition of a term or phrase
(B) “Inured” most nearly means “accustomed.” The sentence is describing an organism surviving in an environment it normally would not be able to cope with. This question is very detailed and further knowledge of the passage outside the contextual sentence provides you with little help. If you are having trouble with this kind of question read each choice into the sentence and chose the one that best gets at the overall point being made. Most of the choices don’t make sense with the concept of the organism becoming inured to “an environment that is normally unsuitable to it or lethal for it.” Would an organism survive in a normally lethal environment if it were simply “exposed” (A) or “attracted” (C) to it, for example?

7. The function of paragraph 2 in the passage as a whole is to:

(A) illuminate the human element of acclimatization.
(B) explain the role of scientists in acclimatization research.
(C) provide a definition corresponding to the examples cited in paragraph 1.
(D) detail the environmental adjustments animals make to their environment.
(E) show the links between important terms used elsewhere in the essay.

Type: Function of a part of the passage (Advanced)
(C) The purpose of the second paragraph is to explain the definition of acclimatization. The end of paragraph 1 provides examples of acclimatization, and the first line of paragraph 2 provides the direct definition of the term. The rest of the paragraph provides a secondary definition of adaptation: to support the definition of acclimatization by showing what it is NOT. (A) and (B) contain a detail of the paragraph but do not relate to its overall function. (D) is incorrect because the paragraph does not show environmental adjustments for animals in detail, only humans. (E) is incorrect because the paragraph contains the term adaptation which is not used elsewhere in the essay.

8. The author is most likely:

(A) a researcher in the field of adaptive mechanisms.
(B) a student of biology.
(C) a veterinarian looking to explain an issue of importance.
(D) the editor of a scientific publication.
(E) the founder of a new field of science.

Type: Identity of the author (Advanced)
(A) The author describes acclimatization in detail and his or her tone is one of experience. The author is familiar with acclimatization at a very high level. He or she is unlikely to be a student (B) since the passage is long, detailed and historical. The author is unlikely to be a veterinarian (C), as the issue of acclimatization applies to humans as well as to animals. (D) and (E) are tricky, but they are incorrect. (D) is incorrect because there is nothing in the passage to indicate that the author is an editor specifically (as opposed to a contributor) to a scientific publication. (E) is also incorrect because, although the author attempts to clarify and explain the nuances of acclimatization, this does not constitute the creation of a new field of science.