Evolutionary Biology Spring 2016 Study Questions

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Lecture 1 - Jan 19th 2016

1) What type of adaptation would you expect to see in an organism living in an environment with visual predators?
2) What’s one possible explanation for powered flight appearing only once in invertebrates and at least three times in vertebrates?
3) Why would it be advantageous for an organism to resemble something else; i.e. a caterpillar that looks like bird droppings or an orchid that smells like carrion?
4) What’s convergence? Can you think of an example we saw in lecture?
5) Do similar traits always evolve because they solve the same challenges? For instance, are bright colors always favored because of their role in getting a mate?
6) In what ways can humans be a source of selection to other organisms?
7) What’s the difference between evolutionary change and plasticity?

Lecture 2 - Jan 21st 2016

1) What is the difference between genotype and phenotype?
2) How might an organism’s environment influence its phenotype? Think of the examples you saw in lecture and come up with two more.
3) In class, we focused on figuring out how to tell if a phenotypic difference was caused by an evolutionary change. What if there is no phenotypic difference between two populations you observe in the wild? Could there still have been an evolutionary change? Why or why not?
4) In class, we talked about the work of Peter and Rosemary Grant on Galápagos finches. Why were these finches a good system in which to study evolution? Give three reasons.
5) What do you predict would happen to finch bill size after another generation, if the rains return? Explain your answer.
6) Define adaptation/an adaptive trait. What happens to the frequency of adaptive traits over generations?
7) What conditions must be met for evolution by natural selection to take place?
8) Why do we think that the loss of armor in freshwater sticklebacks is adaptive, even though we don’t know how armor loss helps their survival?
9) What is one way that the stickleback and finch examples are similar? What is one way they are different?

Lecture 3 - Jan 26th 2016

1) A trait in certain individuals within a population increases their fitness by 3%, can this trait be considered an adaptation? 2) Why were researchers able to use corn to examine the effects of natural selection? What factors made this a good study system? 3) A scientist is studying mice in meadows and has been able to document fitness levels of different genotypes over many years. If this scientist transplanted these mice to a woodlands environment would you expect to see the same trends in fitness in this new environment? Why or why not? 4) You are studying a rabbit species in which some individuals have brown fur and some have black fur. After performing some crosses you are able to determine that the allele for black fur is dominant. With this information can you conclude then that having black fur makes the rabbits more fit than if they had brown fur? 5) How were researchers able to conclude that apical dominance in corn was not a new mutation caused by domestication? 6) Is there a limit on how many bases must be changed by a mutation before this new mutation can be considered adaptive? 7) What are the different ways in which selection can vary? 8) Are there ways that natural selection could act upon a population without producing an evolutionary response?