industrial melanism


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industrial melanism

a phenomenon found in several groups, notably moths, in which a heavily pigmented variant (a MORPH) becomes the most frequent type in an area with heavy, man-made atmospheric pollution. Melanism is an excellent example of MICROEVOLUTION, in that rapid evolutionary change has been brought about by strong forces of natural selection acting in favour of a dominant allele for melanism. The agents of selection against moths (such as the peppered moth Biston betularia) are birds, which predate more heavily those types resting against a colour-contrasting background: poorly pigmented forms resting on sooty tree trunks, for example. The proportion of melanics to nonmelanics in an area is correlated with the level of pollution, although neither type appears to be completely absent in any environment, creating a GENETIC POLYMORPHISM. See also KETTLEWELL.
References in periodicals archive ?
feronia butterflies experimentally with regard to their choice of resting sites, to investigate how that relates to their biology and behavior, and perhaps to be able to provide a new example of the industrial melanism concept.
Another aspect of these results is their relevance to the concept of industrial melanism.
feronia is a well known species that has fixed both, genetically and morphological together, and therefore evidence of behavior increasing fitness related to wing coloration support the industrial melanism theory without the methodological problems that B.
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.

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