Population Genetics

Free Response

Describe a situation in which a population would undergo the bottleneck effect and explain what impact that would have on the population’s gene pool.


A hurricane kills a large percentage of a population of sand-dwelling crustaceans—only a few individuals survive. The alleles carried by those surviving individuals would represent the entire population’s gene pool. If those surviving individuals are not representative of the original population, the post-hurricane gene pool will differ from the original gene pool.

Describe natural selection and give an example of natural selection at work in a population.


The theory of natural selection stems from the observation that some individuals in a population survive longer and have more offspring than others: thus, more of their genes are passed to the next generation. For example, a big, powerful male gorilla is much more likely than a smaller, weaker one to become the population’s silverback: the pack’s leader who mates far more than the other males of the group. Therefore, the pack leader will father more offspring who share half of his genes and are likely to grow bigger and stronger like their father. Over time, the genes for bigger size will increase in frequency in the population, and the average body size, as a result, will grow larger on average.

Explain what a cline is and provide examples.


A cline is a type of geographic variation that is seen in populations of a given species that vary gradually across an ecological gradient. For example, warm-blooded animals tend to have larger bodies in the cooler climates closer to the earth’s poles, allowing them to better conserve heat. This is considered a latitudinal cline. Flowering plants tend to bloom at different times depending on where they are along the slope of a mountain. This is known as an altitudinal cline.