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Table 2 Six key concepts and six target misconceptions

From: Iterative design of a simulation-based module for teaching evolution by natural selection

Key concept
Misconception
Description
Evolution by natural selection Change in relative frequency of trait in a population
 Need to change Populations/organisms change traits because they need to
 Individuals evolve Evolution occurs because individuals change their traits
 Gradual population change Evolution occurs via gradual change in whole population (i.e., all individuals from one generation to the next)
Variation Trait variation in a population is necessary for natural selection
Role of mutation Mutation is a source of trait variation
Mutations random Mutations are random and unrelated to selective pressure
 Adaptive mutation Mutations are adaptive responses to the environment and are biased towards advantageous mutations
Heritability Heritability of a trait is necessary for natural selection
 Beneficial traits Offspring inherit only beneficial traits
 Acquired traits Acquired characteristics are inherited
Differential fitness Differential survival and/or reproduction necessary for natural selection
  1. Key concepts in bold, and misconceptions following their most closely associated key concept in italics