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Natural Selection in an Artificial Population, Lab Report Example

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Lab Report

Simulating Insect Natural Selection in an Artificial Bird Predation Environment

Introduction

Genes are notably the instructions on chromosomes that specifically instruct an organism’s cells how to function for the specie it works for. Meanwhile, alleles are variations in gene types that are noted for producing particular genotypes. In relative connection with genotype is a phenotype which is noted as the process by which genes are expressed in the organism.  It has been claimed by scientists who believed in the theory of evolution that phenotypes have the capability to be passed on to other developing species through the sense of adaptation.

To be able to undergo a process of natural selection and adaptation, Selective environmental forces stand to be the circumstances within the habitat of the organism that either hinder or promote a particular phenotype. In relation to this discovery, it has been recognized that adaptive evolution is the process of genetic change that is influenced by selective environmental forces. Thus, seemingly insignificant variations in the DNA of a species can make for major variations in whether a population or individual is adaptive to its environment.

Statement of the Problem

Natural selection is the process by which the adaptive phenotype of a gene is able to pass along its genes to the next generation. This is a claim that evolutionists depend upon as they intend to defend Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Is it possible for a gene to mutate based on its environment and the way it adapts to the lifestyle that it leads within a certain time and a certain place? This experiment shall explore such possibility through a simulation of insect natural selection in an artificial bird predation environment.

Objectives of Experimentation

The objectives of this experiment include acquiring a better comprehension of natural selection, replicating how color contributes to the natural selection of individuals, comprehending how environmental forces influence selection, and investigating how the incidence of alleles can change in a population.

Hypothesis

Basing on the theoretical background dependent on the supposed occurrence of evolution, this experiment is expected to make a definite indication on how natural selection occurs or if it does actually occur. In contrast to this aspect of development, it is expected that the artificial birds would react accordingly to the environment that they have been fully involved in during the experimentation process.

Procedure

  1. Experimenters laid out 60cm x 60cm areas on 3 different surfaces.
  2. They selected a number of different colors of toothpicks and spread them evenly upon the surfaces to represent an insect species of different colors.
  3. One experimenter used tweezers to pick out certain toothpicks individually to simulate predation by birds.
  4. In certain iterations, asexual reproduction was simulated by introducing more toothpicks of selected colors.
  5. In other iterations, gene mutations were simulated by introducing toothpicks of different colors.
  6. Experimenters kept data on the resultant populations of each iteration.

 Results

The following tables represent the results of the collected in the experiment. Table 1 includes the starting population as well as the resultant population of each trial on a tile floor surface.

Table 1. Environment #1 populations before and after three rounds of predation and replication

  initial population after round 1 after round 2 after round 3
Brown 10 27 36 42
Natural 10 9 9 3
Blue 10 9 6 0
Red 10 0 0 0
Green 10 15 9 15
Yellow 10 0 0 0

The graph of the resultant data is presented below in Figure 1.  It is important to note that the predicted results were not found. Experimenters predicted the natural colored insects would fair best, but what they found was that brown insects survived best. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that brown far exceeded all other colors in overall survival rate.

rounds

Figure 1. Environment #1 survival rates of different colored insects over three rounds of predation and replication

Table 2 includes the starting population as well as the resultant population of each trial on a carpet floor surface.

Table 2. Environment #2 populations before and after three rounds of predation and replication

  initial population after round 1 after round 2 after round 3
Brown 10 9 12 3
Natural 10 18 30 51
Blue 10 6 3 3
Red 10 3 0 0
Green 10 12 6 0
Yellow 10 12 9 3

The graph of the resultant data is presented below in Figure 2.  It is important to note that the predicted results were found. Experimenters predicted the natural colored insects would fair best, and they did. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that natural colored insects far exceeded all other colors in overall survival rate.

survival rates

Figure 2. Environment #2 survival rates of different colored insects over three rounds of predation and replication

Table 3 includes the starting population as well as the resultant population of each trial mutations.

Table 3. Environment #3 survival of different colored insects including two colored mutants

  initial population after round 1 after round 2 after round 3 After round 4
Brown 20 21 16 12 9
Natural 20 24 28 45 51
Yellow 20 15 12 3 0
Green     2 0 0
Red     2 0 0

The graph of the resultant data is presented below in Figure 2.  It is important to note that the predicted results were found. Experimenters predicted the natural colored insects would fair best, and they did. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that natural colored insects far exceeded all other colors in overall survival rate. Also, note that the mutations faired equally poorly.

survival of different colored insects

Figure 3. Environment #3 survival of different colored insects before and after the introduction of two colored mutants

Discussion and Analysis

  • In the first trial, Blue did nearly worst which was against the prediction.
  • In the second, Brown assumed to have the best results which were in line with the prediction.
  • In the third, Neutral did best which was also in line with the predictions.
  • Although the first result was counterintuitive, the experiment still demonstrates the concept of natural selection of insect color by bird predation.
  • The flat, tan of the first surface could be compared to a desert landscape.
  • The second surface was darker and rougher than the first. Sometimes the terrain itself would be a hindering environmental pressure for some insects.

In general, it seems mutations had little impact on the population. Had the environments provided cover and concealment for the mutated color strains, their survivability may have been better. In nature however, red is often a warning color for other organisms.

Take a red mushroom for example: mushroom eating specie may recognize the color to be that of a poison variety. Nevertheless, human and bird vision are two differing phenomenon.  As well as the experiment illustrates theory, it probably does not illustrate reality that well because there are so many underlying factors in nature. There are irregularities within the experiment due to known facts that are noted to have affected the results garnered apart from what has been predicted at first.

Conclusions

From the point of understanding the yielded results of the experiment, it could be analyzed how the natural colored birds fared well because of the fact that they adapted along with the environment. While mutation did occur, it could be observed that it was the dictation of the environment that affected the results incurred in consideration with the level of development that each specie has been presented with during and after the application of the procedures of the experiment. Proving that adaptation does occur, it could be said however that the results of this experiment are not strong enough to impose on the realities behind the instructive occurrence of natural selection as basis of evolution.

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