<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Explain the different ways natural selection can shape populations
  • Describe how these different forces can lead to different outcomes in terms of the population variation

Natural selection only acts on the population’s heritable traits: selecting for beneficial alleles and thus increasing their frequency in the population, while selecting against deleterious alleles and thereby decreasing their frequency—a process known as adaptive evolution    . Natural selection does not act on individual alleles, however, but on entire organisms. An individual may carry a very beneficial genotype with a resulting phenotype that, for example, increases the ability to reproduce (fecundity), but if that same individual also carries an allele that results in a fatal childhood disease, that fecundity phenotype will not be passed on to the next generation because the individual will not live to reach reproductive age. Natural selection acts at the level of the individual; it selects for individuals with greater contributions to the gene pool of the next generation, known as an organism’s evolutionary (Darwinian) fitness .

Fitness is often quantifiable and is measured by scientists in the field. However, it is not the absolute fitness of an individual that counts, but rather how it compares to the other organisms in the population. This concept, called relative fitness    , allows researchers to determine which individuals are contributing additional offspring to the next generation, and thus, how the population might evolve.

There are several ways selection can affect population variation: stabilizing selection, directional selection, diversifying selection, frequency-dependent selection, and sexual selection. As natural selection influences the allele frequencies in a population, individuals can either become more or less genetically similar and the phenotypes displayed can become more similar or more disparate.

Stabilizing selection

If natural selection favors an average phenotype, selecting against extreme variation, the population will undergo stabilizing selection    ( [link] ). In a population of mice that live in the woods, for example, natural selection is likely to favor individuals that best blend in with the forest floor and are less likely to be spotted by predators. Assuming the ground is a fairly consistent shade of brown, those mice whose fur is most closely matched to that color will be most likely to survive and reproduce, passing on their genes for their brown coat. Mice that carry alleles that make them a bit lighter or a bit darker will stand out against the ground and be more likely to fall victim to predation. As a result of this selection, the population’s genetic variance will decrease.

Directional selection

When the environment changes, populations will often undergo directional selection    ( [link] ), which selects for phenotypes at one end of the spectrum of existing variation. A classic example of this type of selection is the evolution of the peppered moth in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the moths were predominately light in color, which allowed them to blend in with the light-colored trees and lichens in their environment. But as soot began spewing from factories, the trees became darkened, and the light-colored moths became easier for predatory birds to spot. Over time, the frequency of the melanic form of the moth increased because they had a higher survival rate in habitats affected by air pollution because their darker coloration blended with the sooty trees. Similarly, the hypothetical mouse population may evolve to take on a different coloration if something were to cause the forest floor where they live to change color. The result of this type of selection is a shift in the population’s genetic variance toward the new, fit phenotype.

Questions & Answers

what is biomolecules
Lawerence Reply
This is a group of molecules produced by a living organism
Odion
thank alot,I had a hard time getting the answer
Lawerence
wat is the meaning of Mr.niger. d
It Reply
Now Mr. Niger Dac M;movement R;respiration N;nutrition G;growth E;excretion R;reproduction D;death A;adaptation C;competition
Odion
Sorry.... I;irritability
Odion
GOOD MORNING MY NAME IS MESUMBE PRECIOUS WHAT IS YOUR NAME
Mesumbe Reply
ccc
Peace
hi
Emmanuel
Emmanuel Daniel
Emmanuel
what is the meaning of Mr Niger?
Emmanuel
state all the elements and their symbols
Taiwo Reply
what types of muscles are found in the heart
Diamond Reply
Cardiac muscle
Divya
cardiac or myocardia muscle
onuoha
cardiac muscles
Elvis
cardiac muscle
Jemima
Cardiac muscle
Dr
Thank you dear!
yimam
please can you tell me the meaning of Mr Niger?
Emmanuel
It is an initial to represent life processes of organisms. M means movement, R for reproduction, N stands for nutrition, I for irritability or sensitivity,G means growth , E for excretion and R stands for respiration.
Quartey
cardiac muscle
Stanisla
what is digestion
Dolla Reply
it is the chemical break down of insoluble food substances such as fatty acid to soluble substances which are then used for body processes
Lawerence
does human being sperm performed in the ovary of goat
sadeeq Reply
levels of ecological study
sadeeq
no
Dolla
human sperms contains acid
Dolla
what is an artery
Dolla
It is one of the organs of the circulatory system that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body.
Quartey
artery is type of blood vessel which carries blood away from heart...
shams
how liver destroy red blood cells?
shams
big bang theory was discovered by
Sweety Reply
Georges Lemaître
Mr
the meaning of nucleus
Spring Reply
nucleus Is also known as the cell's headquarters
Feranmi
what is pathology?
Azi Reply
is the study of diseases, it's cause and development of a disease
Boadi
State the law of segregation
Theolla Reply
what is a cell
Bunmi Reply
A cell is a basic structural unit of an organism
Addo
what are molecules?
Veronica
molecule:a group of atoms bonded together, representing the smallest fundamental unit of a chemical compound that can take part in a chemical reaction.
Black
cell is basic structural and functional unit of life which can perform all the metabolic activities
Prakash
which organ function as modulator & effector in homeostasis glucose level ( Liver & islet of Langerhans ) & How ?
Dr
a cell is the basic unit of life
Taiwo
A cell is the basic unit of life
Odion
basic structural and functional unit of any living organism
Lawerence
comapare and contrast food chain
Chengo Reply
what are the classes of biology
Oluebube Reply
Microbiology Biochemistry Botany Zoology Horticulture
Odion
what is translocation
James Reply

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