peppered moth

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peppered moth

the moth Biston betularia, which has been extensively studied in many areas of Britain. Its coloration is of two main types: peppered (a mixture of white and grey) and melanic (dark brown), the relative proportion of the two colour types in an area being related to the amount of atmospheric pollution. The colour forms are an example of a GENETIC POLYMORPHISM controlled by a single gene with two ALLELES, the allele for melanism being dominant. see INDUSTRIAL MELANISM.
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Now the pale peppered moths are again much more common than the black forms.
My moth trap has been yielding a number of very interesting specimens, including this peppered moth, which I managed to photograph.
They are also proof positive of evolution by natural selection, the peppered moth being the poster-girl (and, indeed, boy) for Darwinian theory, having been busy mutating to a black form during the industrial revolution, to better disguise itself against the sooty walls of dark satanic mills and to avoid being picked off by birds.
I first encountered the peppered moth (from a scientific, rather than bumping into light-fittings, perspective) back in 1987 - when, just three weeks before the birth of my first child (which I know is pretty bonkers timing - sorry Lukey), I embarked on an Open University degree.
A tweak in a portion of the cortex gene painted the speckled gray wings of peppered moths black, researchers report in the June 2 Nature.
In the often-told evolutionary tale, the peppered moths' color shift began as factories in Britain darkened the skies and trees with smoke during the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s.
Majerus asserted that we must dismiss industrial melanism in Biston Betularia (peppered moths) as an exemplar of natural selection but that the basic tenets of ecological genetics and evolution forwarded by Kettlewell and ford still stood firm.
The fact of Kettlewell's evidence tampering need not concern us, as the peppered moths themselves ultimately confessed to his own misguided ambitions.
([dagger]) Before 1845 near Birmingham peppered moths were primarily light-coloured, but some had darker wings and were called the melanic or carbonaria forms.
And with so many species using camouflage in as many amazing ways, biologists like Grant often focus on a sole species in his case the peppered moth (Biston betularia).
For example, in the peppered moth story described above, if the air in Britain had remained so polluted for another 200 years, it is possible that the peppered moth gene for white would have been lost entirely from the species' genetic pool, or if the environment had never become become cleaner, all moths would be eaten and their bird predator would have to start eating other insects or become extinct as well.
Air pollutants that affected coloration in peppered moth populations in England: