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E 1.

4 Explain how animal response can be affected by

natural selection using two examples
Natural selection is the mechanism to explain evolution. Natural selection requires three
1. a change in the environment
2. a variation in phenotypes which shows at least two sorts of phenotype (ie behaviour)
available, one of which has a selective advantage
3. a genetic basis to this variation
Behaviour evolves just as do physical traits and characteristics. Variations in behaviour can
occur in populations just as easily as physical variations. The environment can select
variations in behaviour. Since a genetically programmed behaviour can have variations, one
behaviour can work better than another in a changing environment. That variation will allow
one group of organisms to survive and reproduce better in the new environment. The theory
of natural selection states that in a population, individuals of a species who are best fitted for
the environment are more likely to survive and thus reproduce.
European Blackcap (Silvia atricapilla)
These birds are small warblers which migrate between
Spain and Germany. They breed in Germany in the spring
and summer and spend the winter in Spain. 50 years ago
blackcaps were going to the UK instead of Spain for the
winter. Also UK blackcaps left to go back to Germany 10
days earlier than the Spanish blackcaps. The earlier the
birds arrived in Germany the more choice of territory they
had and the more eggs they laid. The UK blackcaps had an advantage over the Spanish
blackcaps. To test this behavioural characteristic an experiment was performed where eggs
were collected from the UK birds and also from the Spanish birds. With no parents around to
teach the young in what direction to fly it was possible to test whether the behaviour was
learned or genetic. All of the birds tended to migrate in the same direction as the parents
would have gone which suggested that blackcaps are genetically programmed to fly in a
certain direction. Arriving in Germany early is an advantage and the warm winters in the UK
have increased the survival rate of the birds. This change in migration patterns may
eventually result in a new species.
Sockeye Salmon
A species that was introduced into Lake Washington that then
proceeded to migrate to the Cedar River which flows into the lake. The
river flows quickly, but the lake is deep and quiet. DNA evidence has
shown that the river salmon and lake salmon have stopped
interbreeding. The two types of salmon have different breeding habits. The lake males have
heavy bodies perfect for hiding in the deep waters of the lake, whereas if put in the river are
not efficient at navigating fast currents. The river males are naturally selected to be successful
in fast moving water, their bodies narrow and thin.
Variations in the original salmon population were selected for by the two different
environments. The original population diverged into two different breeding populations.
Sockeye salmon are now split into two genetically distinct populations beach spawning lake
salmon and river spawning salmon.

Loggerhead Turtles: Caretta caretta

Loggerhead turtles are known to always return to the
beaches where they were born, known as natal
beaches, to lay their eggs. They make this journey
across the ocean, far from their breeding and feeding
sites to lay their eggs specifically on the beach they
were born - loggerhead turtles would not lay their
eggs on another beach. It is said that when the baby
turtles hatch and crawl out of their nest in the sand and head towards the ocean,
they instinctively learn to remember the beach.
Studies have shown that turtles of a specific natal beach show differences in their
mitochondrial DNA that distinguish them from turtles of other nesting areas. Many
turtles from the same beaches show up at the same feeding areas. Once reaching
sexual maturity in the Atlantic Oceans, the female Loggerhead makes the long trip
back to her natal beach to lay her eggs. The Loggerhead sea turtle in the North
Atlantic cover more than 9,000 miles round trip to lay eggs on the North American
Thus, this and other evidence suggests the return of the loggerhead turtles back to
their natal beach to lay eggs is an example of animal response affected by natural
selection - the turtles are genetically programmed to remember the beach that
they were born as since they have survived their birth on that particular beach, it
offers a higher birth survival rate for their offspring.
Asian Honeybees: Apis florea
The Asian Honeybee colonies always build their nests of
beeswax combs amid dense foliage, suspended from the
branches of bushes and understory trees. American biologist
Thomas Seeley investigated this behaviour of nesting in dense
vegetation. He identified pairs of naturally occurring colonies
and for one of them, removed the surrounding vegetation,
leaving only enough to provide shade but rendering it conspicuous to predators.
The second colony, the control, was kept the same with complete vegetation
Measurements of nest site temperatures one day later revealed no significant
differences between the two nests. Within one week, however, four of the seven
experimental colonies had been discovered and destroyed by predators (most likely
by monkeys and tree shrews) whereas none of the control nests had suffered any
From these results, it can be deduced that the Asian Honeybee's behaviour of
building its nest amid dense foliage has developed through natural selection; the
species has learned that building its nest in dense foliage renders it conspicuous
and thus increases chances of survival. Through natural selection, this behaviour is
learned and instinctive to offspring and the whole species.

VAMPIRE FINCH Geospiza difficilis septentrionalis

An example: Among Darwins finches in the Galpagos Islands, one particular sub-species,
appropriately called the vampire finch, foregoes the vegetarian diet of seeds and nuts of other
finches and prefers instead the taste of blood, obtaining it by perching on the back of a booby
(a larger bird) and jabbing it with its pointed beak until it draws blood. Since this is the only
bloodthirsty finch on the islands, it is reasonable to assume that the species descended from
birds that did not drink blood probably the sharp-beaked ground finch which is found on the
islands of Wolf and Darwin. Because of natural variation in the behaviour of its ancestors,
some of these finches must have tried pecking at other birds and found some nutritional
advantage from the practice, producing more offspring than birds that tried pecking at other
objects. Within any one generation, these birds would show natural variation in feeding
behaviour; and after many generations of variation and selection the vampire finch that we
know evolved. So unlike Lamarcks theory, which assumed that an animals learned
behaviours were inherited by its offspring, Darwins selectionist account of instinctive
behaviour can work only with a population whose individuals already vary in their behaviour,
selecting behaviours leading to greater survival and reproductive success. Darwin,
unfortunately but understandably, hadnt a clue as to why individuals of a species varied in
form or behaviour, or how these variations could be inherited by following generations. Our
current knowledge of genetics and the molecular basis of mutation and sexual reproduction
provides answers to these questions and strong support for Darwins conclusion.

A tiny extract from: The evolution of animal behaviour: the impact of the Darwinian