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Evolutionary Agents in Beetles

Fadi Ibrahim 211633856 Lab Section A18 Sheila R. Colla

Three experiments were conducted, each one having different factors affecting the population. The first one was a population size of 30, the second was a population size of 120, and the third experiment was a predation ratio of 3:2:1. Four trials were conducted for each experiment, and the results from all four were averaged in the last experiment. In each of the four trials conducted during the first experiment, one phenotype would always die off, while one would always flourish. The other would be in the middle or somewhere near the bottom on the verge of being wiped out. The beetle with the phenotype that was selected for was always at random, which led to different results in each trial. But they all had the same pattern of one type dying, one thriving, and one in the middle. For the second experiment, the population size was increased to 120 beetles. Each trial still had the same pattern as the previous experiment, with one type at the bottom, one in the middle, and one at the top of the population scale, but this time no type of beetle would get wiped out. The beetle at the bottom would end up with a small population size, but would not completely die off. In the last experiment, the population size was kept at 120 beetles but the predation ratio was changed to 3:2:1. The results from each of the four trials were averaged into one graph. The red beetle population got wiped out after 6 generations, as it was the most favoured by predators. The orange population lasted longer, but still got wiped out after 9 generations. The yellow beetles thrived after this with a population of 120 beetles.

The results obtained pertained well to the hypothesis. In the first experiment, the beetle that thrived possessed the trait most favourable for natural selection, which was picked at random. Since the other beetles did not possess the advantageous trait, their population size

decreased. One beetle type would die off faster than the other, meaning it had a disadvantage in the environment. Since the population size was small, it is easier for a beetle type to get wiped out. The population size was increased to 120 for the second experiment. The same general trend was observed, but no beetle type completely died off. The reason for this was because the population size was larger. The larger a population, the more variation, and less of a chance of a beetle type getting wiped out. After a couple generations, the beetle type at a disadvantage would reach a very low population size, but would not die off. Perhaps if the experiment lasted a few generations longer, a beetle type would get wiped out. In the last experiment, the red beetle type died off after only 6 generations. This is because it was most favoured by predators, giving it a disadvantage in that specific environment. The yellow beetle type was least favoured by predators, allowing natural selection to choose for that trait, and then growing in size. Eventually both the red and orange beetles died, leaving only the yellow beetles; natural selection has done its job. Similar experiments were performed using toads, and the same results were obtained (Vorobeva 2010). Therefore, the results matched what was expected, and the hypothesis was supported by the experimental evidence.

Frank, SA. 1994. The evolution of altruism between species. Journal of theoretical biology. 170(4): 393-399.

Vorobeva, EI. 2010. Mechanical and molecular genetic or phenotypic approaches. Russian Journal of Developmental Biology. 41(5): 283-290.