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Towering 14,567 feet above sea level, the lush vegetation and astounding wildlife of Evolution Island makes

it appealing and unique. Weather on Evolution Island is extreme as the altitude gets higher. At the top, the temperatures and climate can fluctuate quite frequently and become violent, causing thunderstorms and blizzards to occur. Evolution Island is known for its steep cliffs and year-round snow caps. Animals of all shapes and sizes have inhabited Evolution Island comfortably for hundreds of generations undisturbed. In recent years, Evolution Island has had limited rain fall, resulting in a barren and dry environment. The various inhabitants of the island must conform to the dry spell, or perish. This adaptation to such a change is known as the Theory of Evolution, an idea first thought up by naturalists Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace in the 1800s. This Theory states that when an environment changes, only the beings that are naturally equipped to outlast that change survive, filtering out the ones that cant. This process is known as natural selection. There are three types of natural selection: Stabilizing, where a species continues as it is without having to change, Directional, when an extreme variation of a species is thriving due to a change in conditions, or Disruptive, when both extremes thrive. On Evolution Island, Darwin and Wallaces ideas and opinions are coming to life, as it experiences the most strenuous drought in its history. The rolling hills, thick woods, and steep cliffs of Evolution Island are changing. The trees are beginning to brown, and the small creeks are drying up. Animals must move out of their regular habitat in search of new sources

of water. In result to their migration, the predators that prey on these animals must move to get to their food sources. Water is necessary for life in any environment. The many varieties of life on Evolution Island must withstand the lack of this necessity in their own ways. Evolution Island has a diversity of foliage, including the Tarweed, Silversword, Vegetable Sheep, Hibiscus, and the Dubautia. The Dubautia and the Vegetable sheep thrive on the alpine winds of upper Evolution Island. At the bottom, lives the Hibiscus, a large subtropical flower. The plants are only half of what makes Evolution Island so intriguing, the other half, are the Rock Wallaby, The Wild Pig, The Snow Leopard, and Chuckwallas, a few of animals that roam the hills, and steep cliffs of the island. The Rock Wallaby which normally lives in caves on the island arent affected by the drought. The small marsupials easily travel to new water sources. This small brown marsupial that dwell the depths of the cliff sides and caves of the island, are known for their ability to hop from rock to rock and live off of selected fruits from the island . It shares its habit with the Chuckwalla, a native reptile. Due to the recent lack of precipitation, the Rock Wallabys have had to leave their caves to find water. Only the fastest and the strongest of the Wallabys made it to another source of water elsewhere. This type of natural selection is directional, because one extreme of the species can survive. Over time, the next generations of Rock Wallabys will become stronger and quicker because those are the only ones that can live to reproduce.

Often found in the depths of Evolution Islands caves, are Chuckwallas. These rough skinned, reptiles are used to dry, arid climates burrowed underground to find water deep in the soil. Chuckwallas come are diverse in color, but are often a dark color with a unique orange tail. Theyre normally damp habitats have been drying out, and theyve had to find their water below the surface. They experienced directional natural selection, because only the fittest of the Chuckwallas could reach water sources. In the next generations of these lizards, they have become gotten longer claws for digging, and are less dependent on finding their resources above ground. Snow Leopards which normally prey on the small animals of Evolution Island are quickly losing their foods sources and must travel to find them, which is unusual for the felines. Many Snow Leopards have died due to the drought, because they are starving or exhausted from searching for food. Few Snow Leopards have managed to reach new food sources, because they were agile enough to do so. This is a type of directional natural selection because the newer generations have become quicker, and have better endurance. An embodiment of power and strength, the short-legged, hefty Wild Pig survives off a diet of worms, nuts, grubs, and carrion, so it is not greatly affected by the drought. Like many of the animals on the island, the Wild Pig did not have to change for the drought. They simply continued to rummage for their food, and that lifestyle allowed them to succeed as a dominant species on the island, proving stabilizing natural selection to indeed be real.

Often seen soaring above the island, is the speckled Pacific Plover. The Pacific Plover is a small bird which thrives off of invertebrates, berries, leaves and various seeds. Standing only 11 inches tall, this small bird easily flew to a new water source, and therefore was not influenced by the new arid climate on Evolution Island, so stability natural selection occurred. The Pacific Plover survived the drought, but did not go on unchanged. The offspring of the Plovers that had to outlast the drought have bigger wings for flying so they can reach farther distances for their food and water. The sticky Tarweed is a yellow and white flower, which stands about a foot above the ground, and can be smelt from very far away. Although normally very numerous, the Tarweeds population has been deteriorating due to the drought, and only the strongest of the species has been able to withstand the drought. This small native plant survived the drought on the island, but not without experiences natural selection. The drought killed of much of the Tarweeds by drying them out, and the only ones that survived were the ones with thick stalks for storing water for extended periods of time. Over time, the Tarweeds on Evolution Island have adapted to the dry climates, and have thicker, coarser stems due to direction natural selection. The shimmering Silversword is named for its silver color, and long narrow leaves. This alpine plant has lived unaffected by the recent drought, because of its location high on Evolution Island; it is still nourished by the inconsistent rains of the upper island. Therefore, they have not had to adapt to their environment because it simply has not changed for them. Although

they have not had to change, they still showed stabilizing natural selection, and because the average types of the species continued to thrive. Similar to the Silversword is the Dubautia. It is a small plant that wields yellow and white flowers. These small shrubs live comfortably above 1500 feet of elevation, because upper Evolution Island is so humid, Dubautias were not harmed in the drought because they still received a decent amount of water, and the average flowers remained as the thriving proportion of the species which is stabilizing natural selection. Another organism that spots Evolution Island is the Vegetable Sheep. Despite its deceiving name, the Vegetable Sheep is indeed a plant. From a distance, Vegetable Sheeps resemble wool, because they are a clump of white, tightly wrapped spirals. Due to their alpine location, Vegetable Sheep plants have not been affected by Evolution Islands recent climate shift, and have experienced stabilizing natural selection. Vegetable Sheep plants continue to be an attribute to Evolution Island, making it unique and interesting. At the bottom of Evolution Island, below all of the towering snow caps, and at the base of the rolling hills is the subtropical flower, the Hibiscus. This brightly colored, huge flower grows were mud has recently been, and in moist forests, so Evolution Island is ideal. Hibiscuses live on lower Evolution Island, which is most severely affected by the drought, so they are becoming more and more uncommon. The only Hibiscus plants that can be found are the ones with the thickest stems, most capable of holding water. In future

generations, Hibiscuses have become more and more thick, and more prone to survive in drier climates. All of the plants and animals on Evolution Island were affected by the change in the environment. Charles Darwins theory of evolution states that when an environment alters, the plants and animals that are unequipped to survive in that environment either adapt to it, or do not survive. The idea of survival of the fittest and natural selection was brought to life on Evolution Island, and is yet another stepping stone towards proving Darwins ideas to be more than just a theory.

Evolution Island

Savannah Libassi Mary Villamor

Biology Hour 2 March 23, 2010