Research Article: Coloration and the Genetics of Adaptation

Date Published: September 18, 2007

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Nicholas I Mundy

Abstract: Coat color is often used as camouflage and so has evolutionary benefit. How is coat color determined?

Partial Text: How do organisms adapt to new environments? The popular conception of the adaptive process generally runs like this: A mutation arises that leads to an improved phenotype under novel environmental conditions (for example, a beak modification suited to exploiting an untapped food source). Because of the enhanced reproductive success of individuals carrying the mutant allele (or gene variant), the frequency of the mutant allele increases. The mutant allele eventually becomes fixed in the population—that is, every member of the population has two copies of the allele—and the population has increased its fitness. The whole process can then repeat itself when the environment changes again.