<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the different types of variation in a population
  • Explain why only heritable variation can be acted upon by natural selection
  • Describe genetic drift and the bottleneck effect
  • Explain how each evolutionary force can influence the allele frequencies of a population

Individuals of a population often display different phenotypes, or express different alleles of a particular gene, referred to as polymorphisms. Populations with two or more variations of particular characteristics are called polymorphic. The distribution of phenotypes among individuals, known as the population variation    , is influenced by a number of factors, including the population’s genetic structure and the environment ( [link] ). Understanding the sources of a phenotypic variation in a population is important for determining how a population will evolve in response to different evolutionary pressures.

 This photo shows four kittens in a basket: two are gray, black, orange, and white, the third cat is orange and white, and the fourth cat is black.
The distribution of phenotypes in this litter of kittens illustrates population variation. (credit: Pieter Lanser)

Genetic variance

Natural selection and some of the other evolutionary forces can only act on heritable traits, namely an organism’s genetic code. Because alleles are passed from parent to offspring, those that confer beneficial traits or behaviors may be selected for, while deleterious alleles may be selected against. Acquired traits, for the most part, are not heritable. For example, if an athlete works out in the gym every day, building up muscle strength, the athlete’s offspring will not necessarily grow up to be a body builder. If there is a genetic basis for the ability to run fast, on the other hand, this may be passed to a child.

Before Darwinian evolution became the prevailing theory of the field, French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck theorized that acquired traits could, in fact, be inherited; while this hypothesis has largely been unsupported, scientists have recently begun to realize that Lamarck was not completely wrong. Visit this site to learn more.

Heritability is the fraction of phenotype variation that can be attributed to genetic differences, or genetic variance, among individuals in a population. The greater the hereditability of a population’s phenotypic variation, the more susceptible it is to the evolutionary forces that act on heritable variation.

The diversity of alleles and genotypes within a population is called genetic variance    . When scientists are involved in the breeding of a species, such as with animals in zoos and nature preserves, they try to increase a population’s genetic variance to preserve as much of the phenotypic diversity as they can. This also helps reduce the risks associated with inbreeding    , the mating of closely related individuals, which can have the undesirable effect of bringing together deleterious recessive mutations that can cause abnormalities and susceptibility to disease. For example, a disease that is caused by a rare, recessive allele might exist in a population, but it will only manifest itself when an individual carries two copies of the allele. Because the allele is rare in a normal, healthy population with unrestricted habitat, the chance that two carriers will mate is low, and even then, only 25 percent of their offspring will inherit the disease allele from both parents. While it is likely to happen at some point, it will not happen frequently enough for natural selection to be able to swiftly eliminate the allele from the population, and as a result, the allele will be maintained at low levels in the gene pool. However, if a family of carriers begins to interbreed with each other, this will dramatically increase the likelihood of two carriers mating and eventually producing diseased offspring, a phenomenon known as inbreeding depression    .

Questions & Answers

What is cytoplasm
Nitta Reply
Parasitic adaptation of tapeworm
Angela Reply
Describe osmoregulator or osmoconformers and how these tools allow animals to adapt to different environment.
Alick Reply
describe the secondary function of a leaf to a plant.
Twizera Reply
hi I'm asking a question about HIV infection, can HIV infection transmitted from Mother to unbron child? please help me I So confused.
Khushboy Reply
no it can't
Ahmad
yes it can but their is an injection that can be used to prevent it.
Gift
Ahmad how no?
Khushboy
Hi im new
innocent
no, unless when giving birth
Bright
YES
Kaole
it is can be transmitted but there is an injection that the mother is injected to prevent the disease
Nia
OK
Kaole
I agree with nia
peter
but I think HIV infection can be transmitted through blood so the unborn baby can be affected by HIV when a slight mistake occurred that what i think
Salim
yes, but there is a treatment however, using a retroviral therapy and injection to prevent the unborn child unscathed from the infection
Gula
what is the difference between primary and secondary active transport in detail? I didn't understand the steps in the textbook specifically
Fathima Reply
you are a doctor?
Mohammed
what is the meaning of connective tissue?
Mohammed Reply
what are the characteristics of living things
Owolo Reply
hi
Mohammed
what's the meaning of connective tissue?
Mohammed
Reproduction, adaptation, interaction, movement, growth, respiration, made of cells, responsive to environment (homeostasis), metabolic action (consumption of food converted into energy)
garret
Movement, reproduction, nutrition, irritability, growth, excretion, respiration, death, adaptation, competition
peter
state two most important factors that favour exponential growth of population of a gazelle in a pack
Eliza Reply
growth
Ben
what are the two types of electron microscope
Sharlom Reply
light microscope and early microscope
Sama
Enzymes are biological catalyst which alter any reaction and protein in nature
Nkoue Reply
Thanks
Gaudi
Your welcome sir
Nkoue
guyz you enjoying
Royd
What is translation and transcription
Nkoue
Transcription is making RNA from DNA. Translation is going from RNA to proteins.
Eric
full meaning of RNA and DNA
Charity
Nkoue what homeostits means?
Mohammed
Mohammed khalfan, In biology, homeostasis is the state of steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by living systems.[1] This dynamic state of equilibrium is the condition of optimal functioning for the organism and includes many variables, such as body temperature and fluid bal
Khushboy
what is the definition of enzymes
Royd Reply
enzymes are biological catalyst that speed up chemical reaction.
Alale
What are enzymes?
Gaudi
Enzymes are made of proteins and lower the energy of activation. In other words, they bring things together which helps to lower the amount of energy for a reaction to go forward.
Eric
they are catalyses that speeds up chemical reaction.... e.g they break down the food we consume.
Azeez
These are catalyst that speeds up the chemical reaction.
Micheal
What is connective tissue?
Mohammed
what homeostits means ?
Mohammed
what is a spirogyra
Talabi Reply
Spirogyra is a filamentous chlorophyte green algae of the order Zygnematales. It is named for the helical or spiral arrangement of the chloroplasts. That is characteristic of the genus. It is commonly found in freshwater habitats. And there are more than 400 species of Spirogyra in the world.
Eric
what is the mean of biology
Bello Reply
what is cell
Bello
A cell is the smallest living unit.
Eric
Hi I'm new in this group can someone please help with the list features shared by plants and charopytes that are not shared with most other eukaryotes
Wendy
iz a basic units of a living thing?
simongc
what is eutrophication
Chinaza Reply
hi.. I'm asking a question about HIV infection.... Can HIV infection transmitted from Mother to unbron child?
Khushboy
Eutrophication is an enrichment of water by nutrient salts that causes structural changes to the ecosystem such as: increased production of algae and aquatic plants, depletion of fish species, general deterioration of water quality and other effects that reduce and preclude use.
Khushboy

Get the best Biology course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Biology' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask