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Adaptation??

Xuhua Xia xxia1 at unix1.sncc.lsu.edu
Thu Apr 13 21:11:25 EST 1995


On 12 Apr 1995, Lawrence Pierce wrote:

>        Just one quick question for any one with some experience in the 
> field of evolution. Does adaptation occur at the individual level or at 
> the population. I recently began achapter on evolution and am a little 
> uncertain about the answer to this question. Any qualified answers 
> welcome

You have just asked a classical question in evolutionary biology. Lamarck
thought that adaptation could occur at the individual level by the
inheritance of acquired characters. For example, a giraffe could stretch
its neck to get a lengthened neck, which could then be passed on to the
offspring. This is known to be false. Darwin thought that some genetic
mechanism would give rise to long- and short-necked giraffes and, if 
natural selection favoured long-necked ones over short-necked ones, then
giraffes in the next generation would have longer necks. In short,
adaptation results from natural selection operating on a population 
of homologous entities (e.g., individuals or alleles at a particular
locus) that possess characters with fitness-related variance.

Xuhua



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