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Flashcards in 5. Natural Selection in Action Deck (18):

Give an example of natural selection in action.

beaks of finches on daphne major - a small island in the Galapogas archipelago


What is the name of the species of finch in this example of natural selection in action?

medium ground finch (Geospiza fortis)


What does the Geospiza fortis (medium ground finch) feed on?

seeds with a wide range of sizes, from small to large


Geospiza fortis (medium ground finch) feed on seeds. What is true of the larger seeds relative to the smaller seeds? What effect has this had on the finches?

- larger seeds are harder and therefore more difficult to crack than the smaller seeds
- there is variation in the size of beak, some have larger beaks than others


Is beak size a heritable characteristic?



How come the variation in beak size can be measured?

finches have been 'trapped' (too small to fly over windy ocean) on the island since 1973


What sort of variations in beak have been measured?

- variation in width
- variation in length


Describe the climate of the Galapagos archipelago. Why is it like this?

very variable - oscillation between:
- warm ocean temperatures (El Nino) = heavy rain
- cold ocean temperatures (El Nina) = droughts


What sort of seeds are available in droughts?

- mostly large seeds, less small soft seeds


What sort of weather conditions did the Galapagos archipelago experience between 1974 and 1977? What was the effect of these conditions?

- La nina conditions, ending with a severe drought
- G. fortis (finches) population dropping from 1,300 to 300


During 1974 - 1977, what was the mean beak size of the finches? Explain how this happened.

'large' relative to the years before:
- 1974-1977 = El Nina conditions = drought
- in drought, there are fewer small soft seeds, and more big hard seeds
- 'larger' beaked birds can crack big hard seeds better, so they are LESS likely to die
- this natural selection lead to an INCREASE in the mean beak size because 'larger' beaked finches were better adapted to their environment


What happened to the mean beak size of the finch population on Daphne Island in the Galapagos archipelago after the 1974-1977 drought ended? Why?

the mean beak size after the drought remained roughly the same (quite large) because the offspring inherited the larger beak size from their survivor parents


In 1983 there was a strong El Nino event. What would the effect of such an event be on the mean beak size of the G. fortis population? Explain.

- El Nino = heavy rain
- heavy rain = more small soft seeds
- mean beak size would therefore decrease, because finches with smaller beaks are better adapted to feeding on small seeds


What is the role of antibiotics when given to humans?

to control diseases caused by bacteria in humans


What is becoming increasingly common when trying to treat disease with antibiotics?

disease-causing (pathogenic) bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics


What are pathogenic bacteria?

disease-causing bacteria


How does the theory of evolution explain the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria?

- genes that give resistance to an antibiotic occur in the microorganisms that naturally make the antibiotic
- antibiotic resistance genes can be transferred to a bacterium by means of a plasmid or in some other way. There is then variation in this type of bacterium - some are resistant, some are not.
- if doctors or vets use the antibiotic to control the bacteria it will kill bacteria that are susceptible to the antibiotic, but not those that are resistant. This is an example of natural selection (even though it is caused by humans).
- antibiotic-resistant bacteria reproduce and pass on the resistance gene to their offspring. These bacteria spread from person to person by cross-infection
- the more an antibiotic is used, the more bacteria resistant to it there will be and the fewer that are non-resistant. Excessive antibiotic use may eventually result in most bacteria being resistant.


What could excessive use of a particular antibiotic eventually result in?

bacteria will become resistance

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