Mechanisms of Evolution

Natural Selection

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Ben Whitten

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Natural Selection

The process of natural selection illustrated in an easy to view format.

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What is natural selection?
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Natural selection is the mechanism which was proposed by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace, which can still be utilised in explaining many features which have been observed in living things found in the world today. You may have heard the phrase "survival of the fittest", which applies to the principle of natural selection! 


Favourable traits are inherited and become more common in subsequent generations, altering allele frequencies in the gene pool of a population. Depending on the environmental conditions for an organism, their phenotype may confer an advantage or disadvantage, relative to the other individuals of the population. An inherited trait that allows an individual to better survive and reproduce is called an adaptation.

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What is the process of natural selection?
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  1. Variation: The individuals of a population have differing characteristics as a result of sexual reproduction, independent assortment and random segregation, and mutations (chromosomal/point mutations). 

  2. Overproduction: The population produces more individuals than can survive to maturity, which creates competition in the population. 

  3. Selection: Individuals in the population are exposed to a new selection pressure, which selects for some individuals over others to survive for longer and reproduce. 

  4. Adaptation: The individuals which survive and reproduce have traits that become more common in the population/gene pool, with the advantageous allele accumulating over generations.

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Natural Selection
Gene Pool Change

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