Understanding the evolution of fire ants may help scientists control the spread of these pests, which have already taken over much of the U.S.
UC Museum of Paleontology
This article uses clear language, helpful explanations, and useful images--but it does get into some advanced applications of natural selection. This resource is probably best used with advanced students who already have a basic understanding of natural selection.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- Evolution results from selection acting upon genetic variation within a population. (LS4.B)
- Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations. (LS4.B, LS4.C)
- Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction. (LS4.B, LS4.C)
- Depending on environmental conditions, inherited characteristics may be advantageous, neutral, or detrimental.
- Natural selection acts on phenotype as an expression of genotype.
- Over time, the proportion of individuals with advantageous characteristics may increase (and the proportion with disadvantageous characteristics may decrease) due to their likelihood of surviving and reproducing. (LS4.B, LS4.C)
- A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7)
- Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence. (P6, NOS2)
- Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.
- Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)
- Our understanding of life through time is based upon multiple lines of evidence.
- Scientists use experimental evidence to study evolutionary processes.
- As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life.