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Lesson summary for:
Natural selection and evolution of rock pocket mouse populations

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Overview:
This lesson serves as an extension to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute short film The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection and Adaptation. It provides an opportunity for students to analyze amino acid data and draw conclusions about the evolution of coat-color phenotypes in the rock pocket mouse.

Author/Source:
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Grade level:
13-16

Time:
50 minutes

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.

  • An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.

  • Not all similar traits are homologous; some are the result of convergent evolution.

  • Evolution occurs through multiple mechanisms.

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

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

  • Evolution results from mutations.

  • Evolution results from gene flow.

  • New heritable traits can result from mutations.

  • 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.

  • Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations.

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

Teacher background:

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