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Natural Selection Lab- PhET Simulation

Pre-Lab Questions
1. What variables can you influence in this lab?
Brown fur, long teeth, and a long tail. Environment, wolves, and food.
2. Define what a genetic mutation is. How do genetic mutations happen? How often?
A genetic mutation is a mutation that happens randomly to the DNA to change a certain trait of
an organism. They happen by their need to adapt and survive so that they can create offspring,
and continue the bloodline. Mutations need generations to occur.
3. What do the terms fitness and adaptation mean? What is the difference between the two?
Fitness is how fit an organism is to live in an environment. (i.e. A fish is fit to live in water) while
adaptation is what the organism does or natural selection does to help it survive in the
environment and create offspring. Organisms can adapt.
4. What selection factors might effect an animal population besides the ones used in this lab?
Climate, weather, environment, temperature, etc.
5. Designing The Experiment
In this Lab you will be controlling the mutations and environment of a population of rabbits. Your
will create four hypotheses and design an experiment to test each one. Your hypothesis will
follow the format where you fill in the (...) with your own ideas and reasons.
1. I hypothesize that brown rabbits will be more likely to survive under wolves within the
equator environment, because their fur color matches with the environment which
makes the hard to prey on by the wolves.
2. I hypothesize that long teeth rabbits will be more likely to survive under food within the
equator environment, because their teeth will help them consume food compared to
the one with normal teeth
3. I hypothesize that long tail white rabbits will be more likely to survive under wolves
within the equator environment, because they are more agile and can survive longer
compared to the normal white rabbit WITHOUT the long tail.

***You must make at least one hypothesis for each of the three different types of phenotype
mutations***

For each experiment you must have a control (no mutation) and fill in the following chart

Experiment
and
Hypothesis

Pheno
type

Selective
Factor

CONTROL
Group
Initial
Population
at F3

CONTROL
Group
Final
Population

Experiment
Group
Initial
Population
at F3

Experiment
Group
Final
Population

Conclusion/
Observation

Brown

Wolves

18

0 (F5)

38

The hypothesis
was correct

Long
teeth

Food

18

12

40

Correct
hypothesis

Long
tail

Wolves

18

0 (F5)

0 (F5)

Wrong
hypothesis

For each of the experiments, begin by adding a friend and a mutation. Wait until the F3
generation before adding the selective factor. After adding the selective factor let the
simulation run for another 3 or 4 generations.
Use the population numbers from the chart to get you numbers for the table, remember
you can zoom in and out on the chart to get more accurate reads.
Repeat for experiments 2, 3 and 4
Post-Lab Questions
1. Based upon your evidence from the simulation what conclusion are you able to make
about each of the three different types of phenotypes in rabbits?
The fur color of the bunnies will affect them depending on the color of the environment. The
brown fur is better for the equator while white fur is better for the arctic.
Long teeth are essential for the bunnies to get food. They could thrive without long teeth, but
would die out eventually and their population will not increase.
Long tails have no affect whatsoever to the survivability of the bunnies. They still die either way.
2. What happens to animals that cannot compete as well with other animals in the wild?
They die out

3. Sometimes animals that are introduced into an area that they never lived in before, outcompete and endanger resident species, why do you think this happens?
They are not used to this new environment, they may have been the top predator in their old
environment, and it acts to do so in the new environment resulting in endangering the resident
species.

4. If only one species is considered the "fittest", why do we still have so many variations
among species? Why do some birds have very long pointy beaks, while other birds have
short flat beaks?
We have those variations, as these species needs to be able to survive. The pointy beaks are
the result of adaptation and natural selection. Those birds may live in an area with long flowers
that is why they have those long beaks to be able to feed.

5. How do you think diseases can affect natural selection?


Diseases help find out who are superior as when a disease hits, most of the species will die but
a group will be immune and will pass down the gene.

6. How does this simulation mimic natural selection? In what ways does this simulation fail to
represent the process of natural selection?
It mimics natural selection by supplying environmental and external factors to an organisms
survivability. We are also able to pick what mutations the bunnies would get. However, the
mutation happens in one generation only that is how it fails as a simulation.

Extension- Changing the Dominance and


Recessive Alleles
Take one of the experiments from the lab. Recreate the same
experiment, EXCEPT when you add the mutation EDIT THE
GENES by switching the dominant and recessive allele for that
trait. Make a hypothesis, fill in the chart again and compare the
results to your initial experiment.
Experiment
and
Hypothesis

Phenotype

Brown

Selective
Factor

Wolves

CONTROL
Group
Initial
Population
at F3

CONTROL
Group
Final
Population

Experiment
Group
Initial
Population at
F3

Experiment
Group
Final
Population

18

0 (F5)

Conclusion/
Observation

The
hypothesis
was correct

1. Did switching the alleles for dominant and recessive have any impact on the population of
rabbits? If so Why? If nothing changed Why not?
Yes, it did have an impact for the population, but not the outcome. The one that survived was
the brown furred bunny even though it took longer for them to have more babies because brown
fur was a recessive trait.

2. Two parent rabbits are both heterozygous for the trait. Create Punnet squares for the
original experiment and the new experiment (with the changed alleles). What are the
phenotype ratios of the Punnet squares? Does this evidence support your finding? and
how?

BB

Bb

Bb

bb

^Original
75% Brown Fur
25% White Fur

BB

Bb

Bb

bb

^New
75% White Fur
15% Brown Fur
3. If this new experiment were to run longer would the end result be the same or different
from the original experiment?
Sameastheoriginalexperiment,justdifferentpopulationsofthemutatedandnormalbunnies.

Extension- Working with PedigreesSwitch from the population chart to the pedigree
chart
Begin by adding a friend and a mutation. Wait until
the F5 generation. Copy the Pedigree for two
rabbits (described below) using the key. Assume
that male rabbits are on the left and female rabbits
are on the right.

Find these two rabbits, make sure they have at least four generations:
1. Select a rabbit that has the mutation.
2. Select a rabbit without the mutation but with parents or grandparent with the mutation.
Answer the following questions:
1. How could using a pedigree be helpful?
We could see the genetics of multiple bunnies and see what trait their offspring might have.

2. What does it mean to have a yellow triangle above the rabbit?


That rabbit has the mutation.

3. What does it mean when a rabbit has a red X over it?


The rabbit died.

4. How accurate are the pedigrees used in this lab? Did each couple only have one baby?
The pedigree in this lab is not accurate as it does not show if the bunnies are homozygous or
heterozygous. We also dont know if each couple only had one baby.