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Find out how we investigate evolutionary adaptations by following two scientists and their team as they figure out how the willow leaf beetle survives in different climates.
UC Museum of Paleontology
This research profile comes with a student reading guide, as well as a set of discussion questions.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- 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.
- Phenotype is a product of both genotype and the organismís interactions with the environment.
- 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.
- An individualís fitness (or relative fitness) is the contribution that individual makes to the gene pool of the next generation relative to other individuals in the population.
- An organismís fitness depends on both its survival and its reproduction.
- Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence.
- A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing.
- Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence.
- Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data.
- Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations.
- Science is a human endeavor.
- 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.
- Scientists use experimental evidence to study evolutionary processes.