Support materials only that illustrate some possible contexts for exploring Science as a Human Endeavour concepts in relation to Science Understanding content.
Darwin proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection to refute Lamarck’s theory. He provided evidence for descent with modification (branching evolution) based on patterns in variation of domesticated and wild species, and patterns of species distributions in time and space (ACSBL069). Contemporary evidence for evolution comes from five main lines of evidence: paleontology, biogeography, developmental biology, morphology and genetics. Technological developments in the fields of comparative genomics, comparative biochemistry and bioinformatics have enabled identification of further evidence for evolutionary relationships (ACSBL068).
Theoretical models of natural selection do not account for culture and technology, which can alter selection pressures so that it is not necessarily the ‘fittest’ that survive to reproduce. This has caused some to ask whether human evolution is still occurring, particularly in Western societies post the significant cultural events of agriculture, the Industrial Revolution, modern medicine and mass transportation. However, new results from projects such as the 1000 Genomes Project indicate that the rapid increase in the human population (from roughly five million at the end of the last Ice Age to more than seven billion today) has generated an enormous amount of variation in the species (ACSBL068). Other localised studies point to fertility-related natural selection (ACSBL069).
The notion of minimum reserve size to maintain ecological processes is an important focus of conservation planning, and includes consideration of biogeography and population dynamics. Estimating minimum reserve size for a target conservation species can involve the calculation of minimum viable population and consideration of the area required for each individual in that population, given species preferences for particular habitat and social dynamics within the population (ACSBL074). However, determination of reserve size must also consider the needs and attitudes of other stakeholders, including cultural and economic values of indigenous peoples, recreational and aesthetic values of the public, the capacity to protect, monitor and manage the reserve, and other factors (ACSBL070). An alternative to single large reserves may be a number of smaller reserves that are connected by ‘green corridors’ that enable fauna to migrate.