How does gene flow, genetic drift, and natural selection change the composition of the gene pool?

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Of those three processes, gene flow is the least related because gene flow will introduce new genetic coding into an existing population. The reason for this is because of what gene flow is. Gene flow occurs when there is a movement of genetic material from one population of organisms to another population. Migration is a simple mechanism by which this can work. Another mechanism would be pollen being blown into a new location. As that genetic material moves into a new location and population, it is introducing genetic variation into that population by default, thus the composition of the previous gene pool is now changed.

While gene flow tends to bring in new genetic material, genetic drift and natural selection tend to create gene pool changes by limiting what traits are present within a population. Natural selection states that some organisms survive or die based on their overall fitness. That fitness is determined by specific adaptations. A beneficial adaptation likely results in surviving long enough to reproduce and pass on the beneficial trait. Given enough time, the gene pool can become heavily dominated by that one particular trait.

Genetic drift is similar to natural selection in that certain species are not surviving to pass on their genes; however, the difference is that genetic drift is entirely random. For example, if a flock of birds comprised of two slightly different colored individuals is hit by an airplane, and 90% of the darker colored birds happen to survive, then those "lucky" darker birds are the ones that pass on their genetic material to the next generation. This will likely result in more dark birds than light birds.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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