The peppered moth(s) genetics of domestication

Popular and common amongst insect collectors, the peppered moths, are easy to preserve, and maintain after death. How easily though, there populations can adapt to new conditions in times of environmental stress. Before 1850, the moths were speckled light grey, after 1850, peppered moths, started turning darker, almost totally black. Was it evolution through natural selection, or Darwinism? It was no doubt, industrial pollution, in England, mid 19th century, turning lichen on tree trunks black. Many white, (or lighter coloured peppered moths), were easy to identify and thus vulnerable to predators. As more of the dark moths survived, the gene pool shifted toward darker colourations. Similar ‘industrial mechanisms’ were identified all over the world. For about 100 years, dark peppers moths continued to dominate the population. Then, in the 1950s, resulting from stronger anti-pollution legislation, air was cleaner, lichen went lighter, and so began the moths. The colour of the peppered moth definitely shifted in response to environmental factors however it was more multifaceted that thought (migration and birds).
In short, story highlights environmental and neolithic complexities, and reminds us: be careful, simple evolutionary changes, aren’t that easy to trace.

Bibliography: “Photos of Peppered Moth (Biston betularia) · iNaturalist”. iNaturalist. Retrieved 16 November 2020.

Gishlick, Alan (23 November 2006). “Icon 6 — Peppered Moths”. National Center for Science Education. Jan 2022

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