Examples of Evolution: Butterflies and Parasites

My AP Biology Thoughts  

Unit 7 Natural Selection 

EPISODE TITLE: Butterflies and Parasites

Anushka Agarwal, Olivia Lundquist, & Hana Hamid 

Welcome to My AP Biology Thoughts podcast, our names are Anushka, Olivia, and Hana and we are your hosts for Unit 7: Examples of Evolution-Butterflies and parasites. In episode 114, we will be discussing Butterflies and parasites and how they relate to the AP Biology Curriculum. 

Segment 1: Overview of Butterflies and Parasites 

  •  To start off, what is evolution? Evolution is the process by which different organisms develop from their ancestors to adapt to the environment they are living in. This idea was proposed by Charles Darwin to explain how species have the ability to evolve. We can look at the Blue Moon butterflies for examples and how they adapted to their environment to protect themselves from the killing parasite. The Blue Moon Butterfly, or Hypolimnas bolina, is an eggfly commonly found in New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, Solomons, etc. The blue moon butterfly’s mating season is normally in the spring and summer. Their name is derived from the 2 bright circular patches on the backs of the males. Natural selection occurring between the butterflies and parasites is an example of evolution happening in real time. This is because scientists discovered that the bluemoon butterflies developed resistance in a span of 10 generations (which lasted a year). 
  • Additionally, the peppered moth is a species of a night-flying moth which is most commonly found in the northern hemisphere in countries such as Europe, Asia, and North America. They are generally small moths (only 1.5-2.5 inches) and their eggs normally hatch during mid summer. While some moths are typically light in color, many have dark skins and normally have extra camouflage to protect them from their predators (which includes ​​flycatchers, nuthatches, and European robin). We can see a difference in the colors of the peppered moth due to the Industrial Revolution marked an era of industrial change in Europe and the United States from 1760-1840, which affected not only economy but the environment as well. 

Segment 2: Evidence that supports Evolution of Butterflies and Parasites 

  •  mutation
  • the changing of a structure of a gene that may result in a variant form → can have impact bc it has the potential of getting passed down that leads to evolution
  • mutation: males can survive the infection of parasite that kills male embryos
  • normally they cant(mutation allowed for them to live and complete term/live)
  • Natural selection (blue moon butterflies) 
  • Since the parasites normally targeted male blue moon butterflies, their population was a staggering 1%. However, because these butterflies obtained immunity from the parasite, their population bounced back to 40% in less than a year! 
  • natural selection
  • the process of adaptation of a species in order to survive. It is caused by environmental factors. 
  • before industrial revolution: moths were white
  • 2% were black
  • after industrial revolution: moths were black
  • 5% were white
  • not eaten as frequently after revolution when dark bc they blended better with the environment 
  • artificial bc the environment changed, causing the need to adapt, bc of humans and factories
  • How peppered moths can be considered natural selection
  • before industrial revolution: moths were white
  • 2% were black
  • after industrial revolution: moths were black
  • 5% were white
  • How did this happen( factories were being built during the industrial revolution and burning coal for fuel helped them run, resulting in a dark smoke to cover the area
  • Moths pass their color to the next generation ( a mutation in the DNA of a single moth caused the mutation to pass on to other moths)
  • Dark moths started to live in dark forests (aided them in camouflage from predators) 

Segment 3: Connection to the Course

  •  AP Biology has a strong focus on evolution because it is crucial to learn about the interconnectedness of all living things on Earth to understand the advances that have been made in biology. Discoveries could only be made once evolution was accepted as scientific fact because it explains how life on Earth is the same and also very different than it was millions of years ago. More specifically, understanding evolution helps us to predict the geno and phenotypes of future generations, and explain how diseases are passed down. Also, understanding random mutation in butterflies can help us identify how butterflies have changed and evolved to survive- evolution is not goal driven, mutation creates variation which then can be acted upon by natural selection. And although humans are not intentionally choosing traits in natural selection, they may be impacted by the changes to species as a result of natural selection that occur around them.

**We can talk about the difference between natural selection and artificial selection (ribecca was saying this in class)

  • Artificial selection is humans intentionally selecting for traits 
  • Natural selection is where changes are made naturally whereas artificial selection is where changes are made when humans intervene. 
  • In the case of the peppered moths, the industrial revolution wasn’t purposely trying to change the moth population and although it was humans causing the revolution, it was because of the environment that the peppered moths were changing in color and, therefore, natural selection was occurring. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of My AP Biology Thoughts. For more student-ran podcasts and digital content, make sure that you visit www.hvspn.com

Music Credits:

  • “Ice Flow” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
  • Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
  • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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In episode 114, we will be discussing Butterflies and parasites and how they relate to the AP Biology Curriculum.

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