Blackwell Publishing

Artificial selection


Artificial selection is the selective breeding carried out by humans to alter a population. It is a procedure often used in agriculture: artificial selection has been used to alter the number of eggs laid by hens, the meat properties of bullocks, and the milk yield of cows.

With artificial selection experiments, evolution can be studied in the laboratory. In a typical experiment, a new generation is formed by allowing only a selected minority of the current generation to breed. The population will almost always respond: the average in the next generation will have moved in the selected direction.

Artificial selection can produce dramatic change, if continued for long enough. A kind of artificial selection has generated almost all our agricultural crops and domestic pets, such as this labrador pictured opposite.

Can artificial selection be used to create new species?

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