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Lesson summary for:
Evo in the news: Toxic river means rapid evolution for one fish species

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Overview:
This news brief from March 2011 examines the genetic basis for the evolution of resistance to PCBs in the Hudson River tomcod. Though this is great for the tomcod, what might it mean for other organisms in the ecosystem?

Author/Source:
UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:
9-12

Time:
10 minutes

Teaching tips:
This article encourages students to reason about scientific data. It includes a set of discussion and extension questions for use in class, as well as hints about related lessons that might be used in conjunction with this one. Get more tips for using Evo in the News articles in your classroom.

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Evolution results from selection acting upon genetic variation within a population. (LS4.B)

  • Mutations are random.

  • Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Depending on environmental conditions, inherited characteristics may be advantageous, neutral, or detrimental.

  • Natural selection acts on the variation that exists in a population. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Organisms cannot intentionally produce adaptive mutations in response to environmental influences.

  • Populations, not individuals, evolve.

  • Over time, the proportion of individuals with advantageous characteristics may increase (and the proportion with disadvantageous characteristics may decrease) due to their likelihood of surviving and reproducing. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Our knowledge of the evolution of living things is always being refined as we gather more evidence.

  • Scientists use experimental evidence to study evolutionary processes.

  • As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life.

  • There is variation within a population. (LS3.B)

  • Evolutionary change can sometimes happen rapidly.

  • Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations. (P7)

Teacher background:

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