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Evolution: Concepts and Mechanism

Topic Review on "Title":

Introduction
Evolution is “descent with modification” (Charles Darwin). The questions evolution tries to address include: why are so many types of species on our plant? Where did they come from? How is it that they all appear to be so different but in fact are all somewhat related?  The study on evolution has a tremendous impact on your life. For example, it can explain why doctors do or do not give antibiotics when you are sick, it can also explain the HIV world crisis.

Theory of Evolution
Theory of Evolution was first described by Charles Darwin.  To understand “descent with modification”, one needs to understand 1) the idea that current day organisms arose from older ancestral species over time; 2) Modification is a mechanism or process of interaction between the environment and an organisms to select for inheritable traits.  Natural selection is one important mechanism of modification.  If a species survives long enough, it has been selected naturally.  The survival depends on an organisms fit to the environment.  In another word, the organism best fit to the environment survive to propagate—this is called “survival of the fittest”.

Origin of species
New species originate in the process of evolution.  Speciation event occurs when members of a new reproductive community no longer interbreed with their ancestral population as a result of isolation and subsequent accumulation of adaptations to their new environment. Evolution includes multiple speciation events over time, which can be depicted with a phylogenetic tree.  A phylogenetic tree shows a relationship between ancestor and descendant, i.e., the pattern of evolution. Most often the pattern is branching; each branch containing the oldest ancestor in that line plus all of its descendants.

Scientific Steps to Darwin’s Theory
Observation: 1) struggle of existence -- Reproducing organisms will produce more offspring than the environment can support if all offspring survive to reproduce; 2) within any given population, there is a range of individual, heritable characteristics;  3) survival depends on an organism’s inherited traits.  Hypothesis: 1) Attributes that lead to a better fit to an environment lead to greater chance for leaving behind offspring; 2) Disproportionate reproductive success among population members lead to gradual change in traits of that population.  Hypothesis Testing: 1) fossil record; 2) comparative anatomy and embryology; 3) Independent traits; 4) DNA similarity.

Evolutionary Theory Today
Darwin thought evolution is a gradual process, today’s evidence suggest that 1) evolution may follow a spurt and plateau pattern (punctuated equilibrium); 2) Changes of ecosystem play bigger roles in stimulating accumulation of new species then once thought; 3) other mechanisms of species modification have been discovered such as gene flow and non-random mating, although natural selection remains the major player.


Rapid Study Kit for "Title":
Flash Movie Flash Game Flash Card
Core Concept Tutorial Problem Solving Drill Review Cheat Sheet

"Title" Tutorial Summary :
Evolution is “descent with modification”.  Theory of Evolution was first described by Charles Darwin.  The core concept of evolution includes two points: 1) current day organisms arose from older ancestral species over time; 2) “survival of the fittest”, the organism best fit to the environment survives to propagate.  New species originate in the process of evolution.  Speciation event occurs when members of a new reproductive community no longer interbreed with their ancestral population as a result of isolation and subsequent accumulation of adaptations to their new environment. The theory of evolution, like other theories in science, also was formed through steps of observation-hypothesis-hypothesis testing.  Nowadays evolution theory is supplemented by some modifications including punctuated equilibrium and effects of ecosystems. 

Tutorial Features:
  • Stick-note type of explanation for easy understanding
  • Flowchart to show the process of natural selection
  • Example of a phylogenetic tree to show evolutionary relationship of monkeys and humans
  • Step-by-step deduction of Theory of Evolution

"Title" Topic List:

Introduction

  • Why evolution is important?
  • Questions evolution tries to address
  • What is evolution?

Understanding Darwin’s Theory of evolution

  • Descent with modification
  • Natural selection
  • Survival of the fittest

Origin of Species

  • Evolution, speciation and origin
  • Phylogenetic tree

Scientific Steps to Darwin’s Theory

  • Observations
  • Hypothesis
  • Hypothesis testing: evidence
  • Fossil record
  • Taxonomic groups
  • Independent Traits
  • Modern genetics

Evolution theory today

  • Gradualism vs. Punctuated Equilibrium
  • Global ecosystem change and evolution
  • Other mechanism of species evolution

See all 24 lessons in College Biology, including concept tutorials, problem drills and cheat sheets:
Teach Yourself College Biology Visually in 24 Hours


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