Adaptive radiation: evolutionary response to large-scale environmental change. This results in the formation of new ecological niches that can be occupied through the adaptation of previous generalists.
Allopatric speciation: speciation as a result of physical separation of the parent population into isolated groups. Cladistics: approach to classification based on the evolutionary history of organisms in terms of shared, derived characteristics. Cladogram: branching diagram that describes the taxonomic relationships based on the principles of cladistics. Codons: groups of three of the four molecules that make up DNA. They make up the letters of the genetic code. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid): double-stranded nucleic acid that contains genetic information. Genome: an organism's complete genetic material. Mass extinction: extinction of numerous species (greater than 10% of families or 40% of species) over a short time period. Molecular clocks: comparison of the rates of structural change in indicator molecules in different species.
Mutation: change in the DNA of genes that ultimately causes genetic diversity.
Natural selection: differential selection of organisms. Favorable adaptations are incorporated in the genome of the next generation, increasing its competitive ability. Phyletic gradualism: theory that evolution is gradual at a more or less constant rate. Speciation occurs as part of this gradual change.
Phylogeny: complete evolutionary history of a species or a group of related species.
Punctuated equilibrium: theory that periods of evolutionary equilibrium are interrupted by episodes of rapid evolutionary change.
Species: a population of organisms that has similar anatomical characteristics and interbreeds.
Sympatric speciation: speciation as a result of changes in lifestyle preferences within a population.
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