Classroom Resources: Evolutionary Tinkering

By Scott Norris
July-September 2006 (Vol. 7, No. 3)

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Discussion Questions

  1. What are the potential benefits to conservation planning of explicitly considering the short-term evolutionary potential of a species? What are the potential pitfalls?
  2. The author, citing Stockwell et al. (2003), suggests that conservationists should view endangerment as a function of both environmental change and a lack of adaptive response by a species.  What are the philosophical implications of such a view that places some of the cause of endangerment on the endangered species?
  3. What is the scientific rationale for preferentially protecting a species in habitat where it is most stressed rather than where it is currently the most secure?
  4. Selective gene flow facilitated by conservationists would require the expenditure of money that would then not be available for other conservation programs.  What are your reactions to how this trade-off should be addressed?

Websites for Further Information

Peer-reviewed Literature

  • Freeman, A.S., and J.E. Byers. 2006. “Divergent induced responses to an invasive predator in marine mussel populations,” Science 313: 831-833.
  • Stockwell, C.A., A.P. Hendry, and M.T. Kinnison. 2003. “Contemporary evolution meets conservation biology,” Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18(2):94-100.
  • Kilpatrick, A.M. 2006. “Facilitating the evolution of resistance to avian malaria in Hawaiian birds,” Biological Conservation 128(4):475-485.
  • Schlaepfer, M.A., P. W. Sherman, B. Blossey, and M.C. Runge. 2005. “Introduced species as evolutionary traps,” Ecology Letters 8(3):241-246.

Key Concepts

  • Artificial selection
  • Facilitated evolution
  • Microevolutionary management
  • Adaptation
  • Gene flow
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