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 PostPosted: Tue 21:10, 12 Apr 2011    Post subject: organisms with cheap jerseys Back to top

These conditions produce competition between organisms for survival and reproduction. Consequently,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych] organisms with traits that give them an advantage over their competitors pass these advantageous traits on, while traits that do not confer an advantage are not passed on to the next generation.[116]
The central concept of natural selection is the evolutionary fitness of an organism.[117] Fitness is measured by an organism's ability to survive and reproduce,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], which determines the size of its genetic contribution to the next generation.[117] However, fitness is not the same as the total number of offspring: instead fitness is indicated by the proportion of subsequent generations that carry an organism's genes.[118] For example, if an organism could survive well and reproduce rapidly, but its offspring were all too small and weak to survive, this organism would make little genetic contribution to future generations and would thus have low fitness.[117]
If an allele increases fitness more than the other alleles of that gene, then with each generation this allele will become more common within the population. These traits are said to be "selected for". Examples of traits that can increase fitness are enhanced survival, and increased fecundity. Conversely,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych] the lower fitness caused by having a less beneficial or deleterious allele results in this allele becoming rarer — they are "selected against".[119] Importantly, the fitness of an allele is not a fixed characteristic; if the environment changes, previously neutral or harmful traits may become beneficial and previously beneficial traits become harmful.[1] However, even if the direction of selection does reverse in this way, traits that were lost in the past may not re-evolve in an identical form (see Dollo's law).
A special case of natural selection is sexual selection, which is selection for any trait that increases mating success by increasing the attractiveness of an organism to potential mates.[124] Traits that evolved through sexual selection are particularly prominent in males of some animal species, despite traits such as cumbersome antlers, mating calls or bright colours that attract predators, decreasing the survival of individual males.[125] This survival disadvantage is balanced by higher reproductive success in males that show these hard to fake, sexually selected traits.[126]
Natural selection most generally makes nature the measure against which individuals, and individual traits, are more or less likely to survive. "Nature" in this sense refers to an ecosystem, that is, a system in which organisms interact with every other element, physical as well as biological, in their local environment. Eugene Odum, a founder of ecology, defined an ecosystem as: "Any unit that includes all of the organisms...in a given area interacting with the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to clearly defined trophic structure, biotic diversity, and material cycles (ie: exchange of materials between living and nonliving parts) within the system."[127] Each population within an ecosystem occupies a distinct niche,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych] or position, with distinct relationships to other parts of the system. These relationships involve the life history of the organism, its position in the food chain, and its geographic range. This broad understanding of nature enables scientists to delineate specific forces which, together, comprise natural selection.

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