The Nature of Evolution: Selection, Inheritance, and History

 

Evolution is a gradual, genetic change of organisms, which results in biodiversity. Organisms change both physically and biologically in response to environmental changes and scarcity of resources. Various scientists, among them Charles Darwin, have stipulated different theories in support of the concept of evolution (Montgomery, 2009). Evolution by natural selection is among the theories put forward by Charles Darwin, and the paper will focus on this theory.

The theory of natural selection is the major driving force of evolution. It stipulates that organisms in a given niche have adaptive features that give them a competitive advantage over others. The organisms have certain characteristics that enable them to outlast strident conditions and adapt to the existing conditions. The favorable traits increase their survival tactics, enabling them outlive their competitors. Thus, they have higher reproductive success and increased chances of survival. Through reproduction, the organisms transfer the favorable traits to their offspring, which are passed down through subsequent generations (Darwin & Kohn, 1996). The individual organisms that survive extreme conditions perpetuate over the generations and populations.

The population with favorable traits grows and dominates a given biological or ecological niche, and the weaker species are eliminated. The weaker species lack the tactics to compete for resources such as food and space. The surviving breed is naturally selected to fit in the niche due to the possessed, favorable traits. The species have resilience and efficiency to survive the harsh and unfavorable conditions; thus, the ability to survive in the struggle of survival of the fittest (Darwin & Kohn, 1996).

Mutation is also a fundamental aspect of evolution, which is the change in the genetic sequence of organisms. Some organisms undergo mutation when faced with extreme conditions in order to enhance their chances of survival. It has led to a diverse range of life forms since organisms will develop peculiar features that will confer them a competitive edge over their counterparts. For example, the fish were among the first vertebrates to mutate to survive the shortage of food along the coastal shores. Some of the fish developed stronger fins and muscles to wobble through the murky waters at the shores in order to reach for food deep into the sea. The fish species that lacked the unique traits succumbed to food shortage when the resources at the shore were depleted.  Thus, only the fish with favorable traits survived and perpetuated over the generations through reproduction (Williams, 2008).

Reproduction among organisms is essential in advancing evolution since the traits are mainly passed down genetically, although some are acquired from the environment. The traits, whether heritable or influence by the prevailing environmental conditions, confer a competitive advantage to organisms, enabling them to increase their competition for resources. In turn, they have higher survival chances in comparison to their competitors.

The concept of natural selection is fundamental in checking the population in a habitat. Only organisms fittest for survival will remain as the others succumb to depleting resources. Examples of natural selection include the camouflaging of the Katydids to resemble leaves. The insects are prey to birds and other predators, and they undergo mutation to adopt a green covering that looks like grass to minimize their chances of being targeted. The peppered moth also mutated during the Industrial Revolution to increase its chances of survival. Its previous light color exposed it readily to birds as it rested on the bark of trees, which were dark in color due to the soot. The moth adopted a black covering that camouflaged by the dark trees (Williams, 2008).

Diverse ecosystems are the result of evolution through mutation and natural selection. Naturally, selected organisms can survive extreme conditions since they have a competitive advantage of resources. Mutated organisms acquire new, favorable traits that also enable them to survive the harsh conditions. Through reproduction, the organisms pass down the traits to their offspring, which are perpetuated over generations and populations (Montgomery, 2009). The concept of natural selection helps in advancing evolution, eliminating competition, and checking the population in a habitat.

 

References

Darwin, C., Glick, T., & Kohn, D. (1996). On evolution: The development of the theory of natural selection (1st Ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub.

Montgomery, S. (2009). Charles Darwin & evolution. Christ’s College, Cambridge. Retrieved on 2 September 2014 from http://darwin200.christs.cam.ac.uk/pages/index.php?page_id=d3

Williams, G. C. (2008). Adaptation and natural selection: A critique of some current evolutionary thought. Chichester: Princeton University Press.

 


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