Evolution of a Population under Varying Conditions of Natural Selection

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Abstract

The primary aim of this simulation project is to experimentally study the evolution of populations under varying natural selection conditions and environments using Unicorn Evolution Machine simulator. Due to limited resources, organisms within a population possessing the most favorable traits for reproduction and survival usually leave more offspring as compared to their counterparts with less suitable traits. Over several generations, this results in a significant increase in the favorable trait within the population thereby making the population to become adapted to its natural selection environment.

Introduction

Darwin’s theory of evolution particularly suggests that populations of interbreeding organisms normally undergo gradual change over time and in different environments. Over long periods of time, the gradual changes in both form and behavior may result in significant differences between the organisms thereby eventually leading to the formation of different species (Darwin and Bynum, 2009). Due to limited resources, organisms within a population possessing the most favorable traits for reproduction and survival usually leave more offspring as compared to their counterparts with less suitable traits. Over several generations, this results in a significant increase in the favorable trait within the population thereby making the population to become adapted to its natural selection environment.

Materials and Methods

The primary material used in the simulation experiment was a Unicorn Machine Simulator. The simulation involved dragging and dropping similar/matching unicorns on top of each other on the simulator application to create a particular population. Next, unicorns were then divided and placed in different survival environments and conditions. The unicorns were then allowed to interbreed and lay eggs. The resultant behavioral and appearance features of the offspring were then recorded and analyzed.

Results

The results showed the unicorns with more favorable heritable variations were able to interbreed more rapidly and become dominant as compared to the other unicorns with less favorable traits relative to their natural selection environment.

Figure 1:

Unicorn Evolution Machine simulator

Figure 2: The Unicorns intebreed to produce 0ffsprings with different traits

The Unicorns intebreed to produce 0ffsprings with different traits

Figure 3: The unicorns with horns were favored and increased in frequency over time

The unicorns with horns were favored and increased in frequency over time

Discussion

Evolution is a gradual change in which traits which are most beneficial for reproduction and survival of a particular population are favored in relation to the other less favorable traits. For example, as was seen in the simulations, the unicorns with more favorable heritable variations were able to interbreed more rapidly and become dominant as compared to the other unicorns with less favorable traits relative to their natural selection environment

Natural selection is the primary mechanism of change over time in evolution as it ensures that the members of a population which are most adapted to the particular natural selection conditions are able to increase in frequency as compared to their less adapted counterparts over many generations. This is particularly attributed to the variations which exist within any given population of organisms. According to Colautti and Lau (2015), every individual organism within a population usually exhibits some level of variation both in terms of appearance and behavior. The variations must be hereditary to ensure that they can be passed down to the future generations. For example, as organisms within a population complete for resources over generations, the individuals with well suited traits for the natural selection environment are often predisposed to contribute more offspring in the next generations as their traits confer them a comparative advantage.

Conclusion

In conclusion, natural selection favors traits which are most beneficial when it comes to reproduction and survival of a particular population. Over time and space, the organisms within a population possessing the most favorable traits for reproduction and survival usually leave more offspring as compared to their counterparts with less suitable traits

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  1. Colautti, R. I., & Lau, J. A. (2015). Contemporary evolution during invasion: evidence for differentiation, natural selection, and local adaptation. Molecular ecology24(9), 1999-2017.
  2. Darwin, C., & Bynum, W. F. (2009). The origin of species by means of natural selection: or, the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life (pp. 441-764). AL Burt.
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