The Rise and Fall of Biston Betularia Essay

The Rise and Fall of Biston Betularia Essay

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The evolutionary changes that the peppered moth have undergone in order to evade predation in highly polluted areas has been arguably one of the most studied elements of Natural Selection within the last 200 years. This rapid cryptic patterning amongst Lepidoptera was originally observed in Manchester, England in 1848 where the first melanic phenotype was discovered. Since this time, the Lepidoptera’s interesting adaptation has been on the forefront of experimental studies. In fact, within his article, “Selection Experiments on Industrial Melanism in the Lepidoptera,” Dr. Kettlewell investigates this melanic phenotype in the 19th century. Further on in 2002, B. S. Grant and L. L. Wiseman published an article, “Recent History of Melanism in American Peppered Moths” in an attempt to further delve into this phenomenon.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, a light form of peppered moth known as Typical was the most abundant form of Lepidoptera in England. However, due to residual pollution from local coal burning locations, an entirely melanic form known as Carbonaria emerged (2). In fact, the emergence of Carbonaria nearly wiped out Typical moths by the end of the 19th century(2). This drastically altered the selective advantage of Typical in favor of Carbonaria moths once the pollutants from industrialization compromised the cathartic nature of the lichens and alga that cascaded over the indigenous trees. By the end of the 19th century, Carbonaria had become the most populated form of Lepidoptera in Manchester and eventually they spread to the neighboring regions(1). Dr. H. B. D. Kettlewell within his research article, “Selection Experiments on Industrial Melanism in the Lepidoptera,” decided to dissect the increasing not...


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...d field methods that were undergone by Kettlewell. Admirable regards can be paid to Grant and Wiseman’s more recent case study in that they tried to expand America’s understanding of industrial Melanism due to lack of data recorded outside of England. However, Kettlewell’s innovative method of “release-recapture” is widely recognized in the constant unveiling of statistical Industrial Melanism.
In conclusion, though Kettlewell and Grant and Wiseman all delved into the frequency of industrial Melanism, their inferences were vastly different. Whether it was the different time periods, locations or research methods, it appears as though one factor led to the different results, pollution. As is clearly conveyed through the explication of these two research papers, research that may have once been prevalent can be proven obsolete as time draws on and factors alter.

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