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2Evolution Group ActivityBackground (Kaitlyn Harrison)A founder effect is an event that occurs when a small group of a species becomes isolated from their larger population. The smaller the population, the higher the chance that the small population does not represent the larger population because the few organisms that migrated or get separated from the original population do not have the same allele frequencies as the main population.  This will cause the population that was separated to become genetically distinct from the original population often leading to a new species of organisms. Focus of the Proposal (Noah Scanlon)The focus of our study will be on the founder effect of sugar birds being placed on a virtually uninhabited island in the Caribbean. The Founder Effect occurs when a relatively small amount of a population is removed from the whole and placed separate from them, thus opening the potential for fixation and even speciation from the lack of genetic variance. We hypothesize that these birds will begin to become flightless as the lack of pressure from predators renders their flight muscles unnecessary and birds who have mutations that increase foraging/predating ability are naturally selected, and the metric will be flight-related muscle size over generations. We will measure the change of the size of the birds’ flight-related muscles over a period of 5 years at a frequency of every 4 months. Hypotheses (Michelle Schulien)The Null Hypotheses would be that by moving these birds to an isolated island there will be no change in their appearance or characteristics due to natural selection. Instead, these changes can be attributed to genetic drift and offer no advantages to the new species. On the other hand, the Alternative Hypotheses would claim that the changes in these species are adaptations brought about by natural selection. The different environment on the island would prompt change within the species that would able them to better survive these new conditions. Proposed Methods (Madison Reeves)Since we are trying to determine whether or not sugar birds will lose their ability to fly when placed on uninhabited islands, we will measure the length of the flight related muscles. We will take the measurements at 4-month intervals for a period of 5 years. These measurements will then be compared to our control group, which would be a population of sugar birds that inhabit more populated islands who do require their flight abilities to avoid predators. Other structures that could be measured to provide insight on evolutionary traits and adaptations could be leg muscles or even overall wing size. Hypothetically, the leg muscle size would increase due to greater use of the legs, and wing size would decrease with the reduced need for flight. Measuring and recording the differences of both traits would support the idea that we previously stated in our alternative hypothesis. 

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