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Review Questions - First Lecture Exam What are the components of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection? Darwin proposed the mechanism of natural selection to explain the observable patterns of evolution. First he discussed familiar examples of selective breeding of domesticated plants and animals. Humans have modified other species over many generations by selecting and breeding individuals that possess desired traits, a process called artificial selection. As a result of artificial selection, crops, livestock animals, and pets often bear little resemblance to their wild ancestors. Darwin saw an important connection between natural selection and the capacity of organisms to “overproduce”. Darwin realized that the capacity to overproduce was characteristic of all species. An organisms heritable traits can influence not only its own performance but also how well its offspring cope with environmental changes. Darwin reasoned that if artificial selection can bring about dramatic change in a relatively short period of time, then natural selection should be capable of substantial modification of species over many hundreds of generations. Natural selection is a process in which individuals that have certain heritable traits survive and reproduce at a higher rate than other individuals because of those traits. Over time, natural selection can increase the match between organisms and their environment. If an environment changes, or if individuals move to a new environment, natural selection may result in adaptation to these new conditions, sometimes giving rise to new species. Although natural selection occurs through interactions between individual organisms and their environment, individuals do not evolve. A population evolves. Natural selection can amplify or diminish only those heritable traits that differ among the individuals in a population. Remember that environmental factors vary from place to place over time. What is an adaptation? Inherited characteristics of organisms that enhance their survival and reproduction in specific environments. Describe five general forms of evidence that support the theory of evolution. 1. artificial selection - demonstrates that organisms can change - there has been enough time for the diversity of organisms on earth to have evolved (The earth is 4.6 billion years old; life began 3.5 billion years ago.) 2. Biogeography o Similar looking species on widely separated islands but similar environments often are most closely related to species on the nearby mainland, rather than to each other. o Species from same area are usually more closely related to other species from same area than to species with same way of life from other areas.
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