Biology homework help (evolution again)

Biology
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1.      As a result of human activity (such as logging), large forests are becoming fragmented into several smaller forests.

a)      How might the increasing isolation of population in these forests influence their evolution?

b)      How might the fragmentation affect the evolution of a large mammal, like a moose, compared to a small invertebrate, like a worm?

May 23rd, 2015

a) For real changes to be seen, evolution takes at least tens of thousands of years. So the secluded populations created by humans are still a ways from providing noticeable changes. 

b) Large animals with long generation periods and few offspring need large stable territories to support a population large enough to maintain genetic variation. As the forest fragments the larger mammals find their populations less able to meet for genetic recombination so inbreeding depression becomes a problem. Fragmentation and disturbances produce smaller foraging territories with small populations with little variation within each gene pool. Large mammals like moose a K strategists in their life cycle.. K-strategists are niche resource specialists meaning they are usually highly adapted rather than generalists. They are resource partition adapters rather than emigraters able to move on to another area with slightly different resources. Many endangered species are K-strategists. Moose in fragmented forest would be endangered along with other K strategists. Worms are small, with a short life span but reproduce in large numbers as r strategists. While they can readily disperse at the edges of the habitat they will be much more likely to actually speciate with forest fragmentation but each fragment will be large enough to support a genetically diverse population of worms.

May 23rd, 2015

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