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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 selection acting upon genetic variation within a population. (LS4.B)
- Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations. (LS4.B, LS4.C)
- Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction. (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)
- Natural selection acts on phenotype as an expression of genotype.
- 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)
- A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7)
- Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence. (P6, NOS2)
- Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence. (P4, P6, NOS3)
- Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)
- Science is a human endeavor. (NOS7)
- 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)
- Natural selection is dependent on environmental conditions.
- Environmental changes may provide opportunities that can influence natural selection. (LS4.B, LS4.C)
- Scientists may explore many different hypotheses to explain their observations. (P7)
- Fitness is reproductive success - the number of viable offspring produced by an individual in comparison to other individuals in a population/species.