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Exploring Random Mutation and Selection: Avida-Ed Lab Book Exercise 2

Author(s): Amy Lark, Cory Kohn1, Jim Smith1, Louise Mead2, Robert T Pennock1, Wendy Johnson

1. Michigan State University 2. BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action

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An introductory activity exploring the role of random mutation in natural selection using the Avida-ED simulation.

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 17 May 2020 doi:10.25334/M8XE-KM10 - cite this


Mutation is essential for evolutionary processes because it is the ultimate source of genotypic variation – variation that can then be expressed phenotypically. Alterations to the instructions in an Avidian’s genome can affect its ability to perform certain functions and even its ability to reproduce (the phenotypes of Avidians). In this exercise we use Avida-ED to explore the consequences of random mutation generating phenotypic variation that can be under selection in the environment. 

Student Learning Goal

  • Students will be able to explain that mutations occur at random, and do not occur because they are needed by an organism to succeed in its environment.

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