According to the theory of natural selection, organisms with traits that give them a greater chance of survival are more likely to pass these traits to offspring than organisms whose traits are not especially suited for survival. When Charles Darwin sailed on his 5-year-long voyage onboard the HMS Beagle, he recorded many observations of nature. Among these records, Darwin noted variations in beak shape and size among the finch populations throughout the Galápagos Islands.
Scientists who studied these beak variations realized the differences were not random, but related to the environment in which the finches lived. They discovered that finches tended to have beak types that made it easier for the birds to eat the foods growing in their particular environment (Belk & Maier, 2013). In what type of environment might finches with large, strong beaks have a greater chance of survival than finches with small, pointed beaks? Why might the finches with the smaller, pointed beaks be more likely to survive in a different type of environment?
Like Darwin and other scientists, biologist John Endler was interested in learning how environmental changes might influence the expression of advantageous traits in particular populations. Endler applied the principles of natural selection when he developed an experiment to study changes in guppy populations. He placed guppies in different environments and predicted how the fish populations would change in order to survive in those environments. For this week’s Assignment, you perform a virtual experiment based on John Endler’s experiment. Like Endler, you hypothesize how guppy populations will change to improve their chances of survival. You complete and submit a lab report for this Assignment.
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