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Answering questions about the process of natural selection

by Gary Mann

Gary Mann is the Head of Life Sciences at CBC Parklands.

If you are asked to answer a question that needs you to explain the process of natural selection, then you must make sure that your answer contains all the information below in this sequence.

Remember: It’s not only the info/facts that you include in your answer that is important. It’s just as important that your answer makes sense or has a logical flow to it when the answer involves an explanation of a process or series of events.

Suggested logical flow to your answer

  • In a large population individuals of the same species will show a great deal of variation.
  • These individuals will compete for available resources (e.g. food and shelter)
  • When the environment changes, some individuals have characteristics that are better adapted to the environment.
  • This will enable them to compete more successfully for the available resources and protect themselves from the new environmental conditions.
  • The better adapted individuals in the changed environment will therefore survive long enough to be able to reproduce and pass their genes onto the next generation. Those with unfavourable characteristics will become extinct in this environment.
  • If natural selection continues from one generation to the next, there will be continual, gradual changes in the appearance of the population.
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