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Table 5 Threshold and key concepts of evolution by natural selection (Tibel and Harms, 2017) and examples of how these are addressed in FACE

From: Development and validation of a framework for the assessment of school curricula on the presence of evolutionary concepts (FACE)

Type of Concept Concept Examples of how these concepts are addressed in FACE (subcategories are identified by their codes and description; guidelines provided when needed)
Threshold concept Temporal scale Processes taking place at very long temporal scales:
1.1 Life has been on Earth for a long time
1.3 Large scale environmental changes (caused by geological, geophysical, astronomical factors) and biological evolution are linked
2.3 The fossil record provides evidence for evolution
Processes taking place at our species temporal scale:
1.4 Anthropogenic environmental changes and biological evolution are linked
2.6 Artificial selection provides evidence for evolution
Processes taking place in a generation time scale:
3.3 Living things have offspring that inherit many traits from their parents but are not exactly identical to their parents
Processes taking place at diverse time scale:
1.5 Many life forms that once existed have gone extinct
1.7 Life forms/species/ change through time
Spatial scale Large worldwide scale
1.3 Large scale environmental changes (caused by geological, geophysical, astronomical factors) and biological evolution are linked
2.4 The geographic distribution of extant species provides evidence for evolution
Ecosystem/population scale
2.6 Organisms’ features, when analysed in relation to their environment provide evidence for evolution
3.5 Natural selection acts on the variation that exists in a population
Individuals’ scale
3.6 Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism’s survival and reproduction
Cell/molecular scales
3.3 Living things have offspring that inherit many traits from their parents but are not exactly identical to their parents (includes the following guideline: recombination and mutations in reproductive cells result in new heritable traits and are sources of diversity)
Probability 3.6 Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism’s survival and reproduction
3.7 Sexual selection occurs when selection acts on characteristics that affect the probability of individuals to mate
Randomness 3.3.- Living things have offspring that inherit many traits from their parents but are not exactly identical to their parents (guideline: A learning goal considered to represent subcategory 3.3 may ask students to understand that recombination and mutations are random processes)
3.8 Genetic drift acts on the variation that exists in a population
Key concepts of natural selection: Principle Variation Origin of variation 3.3 Living things have offspring that inherit many traits from their parents but are not exactly identical to their parents. (guideline: A learning goal considered to represent subcategory 3.3 may ask students to understand that recombination and mutations in reproductive cells result in new heritable traits and are sources of diversity)
Individual variation 3.2 There is variation within a population
3.5. Natural selection acts on the variation that exists in a population
3.8 Genetic drift acts on the variation that exists in a population
Differential fitness 3.6 Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism’s survival and reproduction
3.9 Fitness is reproductive success — the number of viable offspring produced by an individual in comparison to other individuals in a population/species
Key concepts of natural selection: Principle Inheritance Heritable traits 3.6 Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism’s survival and reproduction
3.3 Living things have offspring that inherit many traits from their parents but are not exactly identical to their parents
Reproduction 3.7 Sexual selection occurs when selection acts on characteristics that affect the probability of individuals to mate
3.9 Fitness is reproductive success — the number of viable offspring produced by an individual in comparison to other individuals in a population/species
Key concepts of natural selection: Principle Selection Selection pressure 3.6 Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism’s survival and reproduction (Guideline: A learning goal considered to represent subcategory 3.6 may ask students to understand that (…) advantageous traits depend on the environment and selective pressures it imposes)
Differential survival and reproduction 3.6 Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism’s survival and reproduction
Change in population 3.1 Evolution is often defined as a change in allele frequencies within a population
Speciation 3.11 Speciation results from the splitting of one ancestral lineage into two or more descendant lineages