Adaptive Evolution

Stabilizing Selection

If natural selection favors an average phenotype, selecting against extreme variation, the population will undergo stabilizing selection (Figure). In a mouse population that live in the woods, for example, natural selection is likely to favor mice that best blend in with the forest floor and are less likely for predators to spot. Assuming the ground is a fairly consistent shade of brown, those mice whose fur is most closely matched to that color will be most likely to survive and reproduce, passing on their genes for their brown coat. Mice that carry alleles that make them a bit lighter or a bit darker will stand out against the ground and be more likely to fall victim to predation. As a result of this selection, the population’s genetic variance will decrease.

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