Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Evolution more rapid than Darwin thought

Date:
March 22, 2010
Source:
Expertanswer
Summary:
Evolution can proceed much more rapidly than has long been thought. This is shown in new research on the impact of genetics and the environment on the color patterns of pygmy grasshoppers.

Evolution can proceed much more rapidly than has long been thought. This is shown by Magnus Karlsson, a doctoral candidate at Linnaeus University in Kalmar, in his dissertation about the impact of genetics and the environment on the color patterns of pygmy grasshoppers.

It has been the accepted view among evolutionary biologists since Darwin published his Origin of Species in 1859 that measurable evolutionary changes occur slowly, often taking hundreds of generations. This view may now be about to change.

Pygmy grasshoppers exist in many different color variants and in many types of environment. Through a series of experiments and studies in nature, Magnus Karlsson discovered that the distribution between the color variants of pygmy grasshoppers differs across different environments. In recently burnt over areas, a very high proportion of the grasshoppers are black. In unburnt areas, on the other hand, the black variant is unusual. What's more, the proportion of black grasshoppers changes very rapidly between generations in the burnt areas, whereas the proportion in unburnt areas remains the same over the same period of time.

Magnus Karlsson presents data that show that the pygmy grasshoppers' color changes by natural selection. He believes that the primary cause of these changes is birds and other animals that hunt using their vision. The black grasshoppers are simply less visible against the burnt background, so they survive more often. But as the environment changes and becomes more complex, the advantage of being dark diminishes, and other color variants can once again increase in number.

In his experiments, Magnus Karlsson has also shown that the color pattern of the pygmy grasshopper is genetically conditioned and is passed on from parent to offspring. On the other hand, various environmental factors, such as crowdedness or the substrate the grasshoppers grow up on, do not affect their color. In other words, there is no indication that the grasshoppers themselves can change their color depending on what environment they are surrounded by. Therefore, the great differences that exist between burnt and unburnt environments are the result of unusually rapid evolutionary change.

But it is not only that evolution sometimes proceeds rapidly; variation itself also offers major advantages. In groups consisting of many different color variants, survival is higher than in groups with less color variation. This means quite simply that variable groups may find it easier to adapt to environmental changes and that they are more productive.

The practical significance of Magnus Karlsson's discoveries is broad and just as varied as his grasshoppers. He believes this new knowledge can be used in planning preservation projects for threatened species and to improve yields in agriculture.

"But the most important part of the dissertation is that I have shown that evolution sometimes proceeds incredibly rapidly. This is huge," says Magnus Karlsson.

His dissertation is titled Evolution in Changing Environments Revealed by Fire Melanism in Pygmy Grasshoppers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Expertanswer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Expertanswer. "Evolution more rapid than Darwin thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100322083654.htm>.
Expertanswer. (2010, March 22). Evolution more rapid than Darwin thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100322083654.htm
Expertanswer. "Evolution more rapid than Darwin thought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100322083654.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Where Did The World Trade Center Shipwreck Come From?

Where Did The World Trade Center Shipwreck Come From?

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Scientists say a ship remnant discovered underneath Ground Zero dates back to the 18th century. Why it sank is still uncertain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
London's Famed 'Gherkin' Goes on Sale for 650 Mln

London's Famed 'Gherkin' Goes on Sale for 650 Mln

AFP (July 29, 2014) London's "Gherkin" office tower, one of the landmarks on the British capital's skyline, went on sale for about 650 million ($1.1 billion, 820 million euros) on Tuesday after being placed into receivership. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins