Understanding Evolution: your one-stop source for information on evolution
Resource library Teaching materials Evolution 101

Lesson summary for:
Mechanisms of evolution

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Overview:
Learn about the basic processes that have shaped life and produced its amazing diversity.
This article is located within Evolution 101.

Author/Source:
UC Museum of Paleontology

Grade level:
9-12

Time:
varies

Teaching tips:
This resource includes a lot of material divided into different sections. You might decide to use just a few of them. The resource provides basic, instructional information on how evolution works and would make good background reading for some of the more advanced articles listed in this database. Classroom activities and discussion could supplement material provided in this resource.

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • There is a fit between organisms and their environments, though not always a perfect fit. (LS4.C)

  • Evolution results from selection acting upon genetic variation within a population. (LS4.B)

  • New heritable traits can result from recombinations of existing genes or from genetic mutations in reproductive cells. (LS3.B)

  • Mutations are random.

  • 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.

  • Random factors can affect the survival of individuals and of populations.

  • Natural selection acts on the variation that exists in a population. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Organisms cannot intentionally produce adaptive mutations in response to environmental influences.

  • Populations, not individuals, evolve.

  • 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)

  • Evolution results from genetic drift acting upon genetic variation within a population.

  • There is variation within a population. (LS3.B)

  • Fitness is reproductive success - the number of viable offspring produced by an individual in comparison to other individuals in a population/species.

Teacher background:

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