Reading: Natural Selection and Evolutionary Rescue of a Species

A reading that shows that climate change can be a selective pressure in natural selection. It explains how the selection of a character that provides an adaptive advantage in a changed environment, leads to the ‘evolutionary rescue’ of a species.

Students will learn about Snowshoe hares in North America and how reduced snowfall due to a warming climate, behaves as a selective pressure on their seasonal coat colour polymorphism. Students will learn how such evolutionary hotspots are made due to climate change.

Use this tool to help students find answers to:

  1. Why is genetic variation critical to the survival of a species?
  2. How does natural selection play a role in the evolutionary rescue of a species, that would otherwise be endangered due to climate change?

 About the Tool

Tool Name Research identifies areas where evolution could rescue animals threatened by climate change
Discipline Biological Sciences
Topic(s) in Discipline Natural Selection, Selective Pressure, Evolution, Speciation, Evolutionary Hotspots, Genetic Polymorphism, Genetic Variants, Adaptive Advantage
Climate Topic Climate and the Biosphere
Type of Tool Reading
Grade Level High school, Undergraduate
Location North America
Language English
Developed by L. Scott Mills, Mills Lab, University of Montana
Hosted at University of Montana
Access Online
Computer Skills Basic

Brown and white snowshoe hares
Image credit:
(L.S. Mills research photos by Jaco and Lindsey Barnard)
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