What is the Difference Between Natural and Artificial Selection?

Difference, Facts, Science

In biology, selection refers to the preferred survival and reproduction, or preferred elimination, of individuals with specific genotypes or genetic compositions by the use of natural or artificial regulating factors. Natural selection was supported by Darwin’s finches which were also highly influenced by the development he observed in pigeon features, which he considered as the result of artificial selection rather than natural selection. Let us learn in-depth about artificial and natural selection and also the difference between natural and artificial selection.

1. What is Meant by Artificial Selection?

Artificial selection refers to the identification of desirable qualities in plants and animals by humans, as well as the actions that are taken to improve and maintain such traits in upcoming generations. Artificial selection works in the same way that natural selection does, except that in natural selection, nature makes the decisions rather than humans. (See What are Two Examples of Human Environment Interaction?)

2. What is Artificial Selection Example?

Before we discuss the difference between natural and artificial selection, let’s learn about artificial selection in detail. Man-made selection of specific desired features for breeding is referred to as artificial selection. Artificial selection is performed by selecting individuals who exhibit desirable phenotypes and then artificially breeding these individuals to produce new plants/animals with improved characteristics. Early farmers, for example, grew wild cabbage or Brassica oleracea by using artificial selection and breeding, this wild cabbage was transformed into various types such as cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels.

3. What is an Example of Artificial Selection in Animals?

One well-known artificial selection example in animals includes dog breeding. Although all dogs are descended from the wolf, humans have used artificial selection to dramatically change the appearance of dogs. For generations, dogs have been bred for numerous desirable features, resulting in the formation of a diverse spectrum of dogs ranging from the tiny Chihuahua to the huge Great Dane.

4. What are the Types of Artificial Selection?

In addition to natural selection, Darwin considered two types of artificial selection in his theory based in the year 1868, dividing artificial selection into two parts: methodical selection and unconscious selection. According to Darwin:

  • Methodical selection is the process by which a man deliberately attempts to modify a breed following some preset norm.
  • Unconscious selection is the result of males naturally maintaining the most valuable individuals while eliminating the less valuable individuals, with no intention of changing the breed.

5. How is Artificial Selection done?

Artificial selection refers to the selection done by an individual based on certain traits known as phenotypes. Then organisms with separate but desirable traits are artificially bred to create an organism with evolved desired traits and characteristics. It is done by a very specific method which involves the identification of desired characteristics that need to be evolved and then artificially breeding it with an organism with a desired trait.

For example, modern vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and kale all find their origin in a wild form of the mustard plant, which was then artificially bred to evolve its leaves to create kale, its stem and flowers to broccoli, and its flower cluster to cauliflower. (Also read What is the Most Specific or Smallest Level of Classification?)

6. What Natural Selection Means?

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Natural selection is the mechanism through which living organism populations adapt and change. Individuals within a population are naturally varied, which means they are all unique in some way because of this difference, some people have characteristics that are more environment-appropriate than others. It’s termed natural selection because it’s a completely natural method of selecting organisms with certain traits, as opposed to artificial selection, which is when humans breed sheep to become woollier and gentler by purposely cross-breeding and choosing desirable-to-human traits.

In Darwin’s lifetime, breeding pigeons was his popular pastime in England while people had a significant impact on the look of pigeons by deciding which pigeons were permitted to mate, such as the shape and size of their beaks and the color of their feathers. In the upcoming segments, you will read about natural selection in more depth and also the difference between natural and artificial selection, so read on.

7. What are the 4 Natural Selections?

This variance indicates that some people have qualities that are more adapted to their environment than others. These people then pass on their adaptive qualities to their descendants. As a result of this natural selection process, beneficial characteristics become more prevalent in the population over time. Natural selection can result in speciation, which occurs when one species produces a new and separate species it is one of the processes that promote evolution and contributes to our understanding of the diversity of life on Earth. Check out Who was Smarter Neanderthal or Homosapien?

Natural selection, as described by Darwin, comprises four components: 

  • Variation: Individual variety in appearance and behavior is observed in organisms within populations. Body size, hair color, face marks, voice characteristics, and the number of offspring are all examples of variations. Some features, on the other hand, show little to no variation among individuals, such as the number of eyes in vertebrates.
  • Inheritance: Some characteristics are continuously passed down from father to offspring. Such features are heritable, but other traits are significantly influenced by environmental factors and have low heritability.
  • High population growth: Most communities produce more offspring every year than local resources can support, resulting in a resource conflict while each generation suffers from a high rate of death.
  • Differential survival and reproduction: Individuals with traits that are well suited for competing for local resources will produce more offspring in the next generation.

8. What is an Example of Natural Selection?

Natural selection means the process in nature by which organisms that are ideally fit to their ecosystem tend to survive and reproduce more than those that are less adapted to their environment. Examples of Natural Selection are: 

  • The beaks on Galapagos finches are all distinctive. During the drought, the finches with larger beaks fared much better than one with smaller beaks. During wet seasons, more little seeds were produced, and finches with smaller beaks fared much better.
  • There are both red and green bugs in a habitat. Because the birds prefer the flavor of the red bugs, there are soon numerous green bugs and few red bugs. The green bugs breed and produce more green bugs until there are no red bugs left.

9. What is the Difference Between Selection and Artificial Selection?

Besides wondering about the difference between natural and artificial selection, take a look at the difference between selection and artificial selection: 

  • Selection refers to the choice of the best variety either by artificial or natural methods. It involves the evolution of traits to obtain a desired trait either through natural development or artificial breeding.
  • Artificial selection refers to the inculcation of the desired trait into an organism via artificial breeding or cross-breeding. It is man-made and involves the identification of desired traits and combining them to get desired results.

10. What is the Difference Between Natural and Artificial Selection?

The difference between natural and artificial selection are as follows:

Natural selection refers to any process of selection that comes as a result of an organism’s ability to adapt to its environment whereas artificial selection, on the other side, is selective breeding performed by an external factor, usually humans, to increase the frequency of desirable characteristics.

Natural selection Artificial selection
It is the process by which individuals adapt to their surroundings to survive. It is the process by which a plant breeder chooses plants with desirable qualities to generate offspring with those attributes. This is the major difference between natural and artificial selection.
It is a process of natural selection. It is a man-made selection method.
It assists in the development of creatures with biological diversity. It assists in the development of organisms with specific desirable features.
It can be found in natural populations. It happens in reared or domesticated animals.
The procedure moves slowly. The procedure moves rapidly.
It aids in the transmission of only positive traits to succeeding generations. It aids in the transmission of several desired selected features to future generations.
Example: Long-necked giraffes and beaks of Darwin’s Finches. Example: Breeding various breeds of dogs or livestock to generate the desired kinds.

Artificial selection is the method by which humans choose individual organisms with specific phenotypic trait values for breeding. If the selected trait has an additive genetic variance, it will respond to selection that is the trait will develop. All of our domesticated species, including crop plants, animals, and pets, are the result of selective breeding for desirable features such as hardy seeds and fruits, enhanced meat and milk production, and docile conduct. (Also read Why are Secondary Consumers called as Carnivores?)

Now, you are well aware of the difference between natural and artificial selection. The initial artificial selection may have been unconscious, but it evolved into a complex science of plant and animal breeding; indeed, much of the subject of quantitative genetics was established to improve breeding techniques. 

About the author
Alex Williams is a PhD student in urban studies and planning. He is broadly interested in the historical geographies of capital, the geopolitical economy of urbanization, environmental and imperial history, critical urban theory, and spatial dialectics.

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