If you followed along in the comments to Part 1 and Part 2, you will have noticed that a few readers, particularly John Harshman, brought up a very good point: that the “Evolution Misconceptions Diagnostic” should really be called the “Natural Selection Misconceptions Diagnostic.” As Harshman pointed out, using “evolution” in the stead of “natural selection” is itself a misconception, one I covered early on in this blog. I relayed this comment (as well as another about a particular question on the diagnostic, which I will cover below) to the folks at UCMP, which hosts the diagnostic on its site. They agreed and will be changing the name. Hooray! Well done, readers.
Now, on to the answers!
1. A given plant population is pollinated exclusively by a particular bee. A wet spring leads to a disease that wipes out all of the bees in the plant’s habitat. What is the likely outcome for this plant population?
a) A mutation will arise which will allow the plants to be pollinated by other insects.
b) Because they need to change their pollinators, some plant individuals will adapt to be pollinated by other insects.
c) This plant population will die off.
d) Enough variation exists within the plant population to allow it to adapt to any environmental challenge.