The animations are available at http://www.techapps.net/
Objective: Simulate changes in moth population due to pollution and predation, and observe how species can change over time.
Charles Darwin accumulated a tremendous collection of facts to support the theory of evolution by natural selection. One of his difficulties in demonstrating the theory, however, was the lack of an example of evolution over a short period of time, which could be observed as it was taking place in nature. Although Darwin was unaware of it, remarkable examples of evolution, which might have helped to persuade people of his theory, were in the countryside of his native England. One such example is the evolution of the peppered moth Biston betularia.
The economic changes known as the industrial revolution began in the middle of the eighteenth century. Since then, tons of soot have been deposited on the country side around industrial areas. The soot discoloured and generally darkened the surfaces of trees and rocks. In 1848, a dark-coloured moth was first recorded. Today, in some areas, 90% or more of the-peppered moths are dark in colour. More than 70 species of moth in England have undergone a change from light to dark. Similar observations have been made in other industrial nations, including the United States.
Click the link below to read more information on Kettlewell's study of moths. At the end, you will run two simulations for 5 minutes each, during this time you will play the part of a bluejay that eats moths.
After 5 minutes record the % of dark moths and light moths - you will need this information later.
Answer on a separate page to turn in. Answers should be in complete sentences.
1. Draw a data table similar to the one shown below where data is recorded for moths after 5 minutes of running the simulation.
2. Explain how the color of the moths increases or decreases their chances of survival.
3. Explain the concept of "natural selection" using your moths as an example.
4. What would happen if there were no predators in the forest. Would the colors of the moths change over time? Defend your answer.
5. Propose a design for another experiment that tests moth phenotypes in a forest where there are no predators. The limiting factor is food availability for caterpillars (baby moths) and caterpillars with larger mouthparts are able to obtain food faster. What data would researchers take in this experiment to show how natural selection affects the moth populations.