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Lesson summary for:
Population genetics, selection, and evolution

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Overview:
This hands-on activity, used in conjunction with a short film, teaches students about population genetics, the Hardy-Weinberg principle, and how natural selection alters the frequency distribution of heritable traits. It

Author/Source:
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Grade level:
13-16

Time:
2-3 50 minute class periods

Teaching tips:
To do the activity in only two class periods, you can assign one section of the activity as homework. However, nswers to the worksheet are readily available online, so if this is a concern, you may wish to do the activity in class.

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

  • There is a fit between organisms and their environments, though not always a perfect fit.

  • Evolution is often defined as a change in allele frequencies within a population.

  • The Hardy-Weinberg equation describes expectations about the gene pool of a population that is not evolving—one that is very large, mates randomly, and does not experience mutation, natural selection, or gene flow.

  • Evolution results from natural selection acting upon genetic variation within a population.

  • Natural selection and genetic drift act on the variation that exists in a population.

  • Natural selection acts on phenotype as an expression of genotype.

  • Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction.

  • 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.

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

  • Natural selection can act on the variation in a population in different ways.

  • Natural selection sometimes favors heterozygotes over homozygotes at a locus.

  • As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life, for example in agriculture, biodiversity and conservation biology, and medicine and health.

Teacher background:

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