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Question: Describe the four basic causes of evolution: natural selection, mutation, genetic drift, and gene flow.
Answer: Causes of evolution: According to Hardy Weinberg's theorem, the four basic causes of evolution are: mutation, gene flow, genetic drift, and natural selection.
Mutation - Mutation is the origin of new alleles and also the cause of variation within the DNA sequence. Thus, the mutation results in genetic variation within the gene pool. In a sexually reproductive species, the mutation which is responsible for evolution occurs within the gametes and the results into offspring. The changing frequency due to mutation is very low, which results in a minute change in evolution (von Cramon-Taubadel, 2019). This makes the possibility of mutation within a specific gamete low, for a given gene. Hence, mutation alone do not possess a major impact on allele frequencies, rather assist by providing genetic variation required by other forces of evolution.
Gene flow - The gene flow is the movement of alleles inside and outside of a population. This flow results in the movement of individuals or gametes, and alter the allele frequencies of the population on both ends. Due to this migration, some population remains stable while others experience higher flux (Maia, & de Araújo Campos, 2019). For instance, during the 1960's and 1970's war of Vietnam, most of the American servicemen left copies of their genes in Vietnamese women, which resulted in offspring. And this way, they altered the allele frequencies of the gene of Vietnamese.
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Genetic Drift - It is a form of random change within the allele frequencies, which mostly occurs rarely. Genetic drift is important in the case of small populations. It occurs because the alleles present in an offspring generation is the arbitrary representation of alleles found in the parent generation. However, within a small population, there is also a chance of generating varying allele frequencies than demanded in the succeeding generation, which shows the drift of frequencies over time. There are basically two conditions that result in genetic drift, that are, (i) bottleneck effect and (ii) founder effect (Maia et al, 2019). The bottleneck effect is applicable when the population gets smaller suddenly, where the allele frequency of the survivor turns out to be the genetic structure of the present population and it may be different from the pre-disaster population. The founder effect is possible when a few individuals start an entirely new population, where the genetic structure of the founder is completely different from the population left.
Natural selection - It leads to an evolutionary change where some individuals with specific features in a population have more chance of endurance and reproductive rate as compared to others, due to better adaptability with the environment. As a result, these inheritable or advantageous genetic features are then passed over to their offsprings (von Cramon-Taubadel, 2019).
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