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Vernier Software & Technology

Population Genetics and Evolution

Figure from experiment 8 from Advanced Biology with Vernier


As early as the 500s B.C., several Greek philosophers theorized about the union of male and female traits to form offspring. In the 17th century, Leeuwenhoek concluded that semen and eggs carried hereditary factors conveyed to the offspring. Throughout the next century, scientists developed theories on the processes of development; LaMarck was one of the first to discuss the possibility of acquiring changed traits from parents. For example, he thought that if giraffes had to stretch to eat the tops of trees, their offspring would be born with longer necks.

Populations evolve by responding to their surroundings through natural selection. This change actually occurs in the frequency of gene alleles in the population. William Castle, an American scientist; Geoffrey Hardy, a British mathematician; and Wilhelm Weinberg, a German physician, independently determined that the frequencies of genes in a population remain constant unless certain forces act on the population. Dominant alleles will not replace recessive alleles, and the ratio of heterozygous and homozygous individuals does not change over the course of several generations. This theory has come to be known as the Hardy–Weinberg principle; it is the basis of the study of population genetics.


In this experiment, you will

  • Investigate a genetically inherited trait and apply the Hardy-Weinberg Principle to a population.
  • Calculate allele frequencies and genotypes for a population using the Hardy-Weinberg formula.
  • Compare allele frequencies within the classroom to North American averages.
  • Demonstrate the stability of allele frequencies over five generations in an ideal Hardy-Weinberg population.
  • Examine the effects of natural selection, heterozygous advantage, and genetic drift on allele frequencies in a simulated mating exercise.

Sensors and Equipment

No probeware required for this experiment.

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Advanced Biology with Vernier »

Advanced Biology with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1ADiffusion through Membranes
2AEnzyme Action: Testing Catalase Activity
2BEnzyme Action: Testing Catalase Activity
3Mitosis & Meiosis
4APlant Pigment Chromatography
5ACell Respiration (CO2 and O2)
5BCell Respiration (CO2)
5CCell Respiration (O2)
5DCell Respiration (Pressure)
6ApGLO™ Bacterial Transformation
6BAnalysis of Precut Lambda DNA
6BForensic DNA Fingerprinting
7Genetics of Drosophila
8Population Genetics and Evolution
10ABlood Pressure as a Vital Sign
10BHeart Rate and Physical Fitness
11Animal Behavior
12ADissolved Oxygen in Water
12BPrimary Productivity
13The Visible Spectra of Plant Pigments
14Determination of Chlorophyll in Olive Oil
15Enzyme Analysis using Tyrosinase
16Introduction to Neurotransmitters using AChE
17Macromolecules: Experiments with Protein

Experiment 8 from Advanced Biology with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Advanced Biology with Vernier</i> book cover

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