Term Paper Evolution

Click the tabs on the left to find out more about the components of this journal article, or download the journal article (PDF) and reading guide (PDF or Word document). It's worth looking up parts of the title that you don't understand. A mutualism is a relationship that benefits both parties involved.So this paper is about how a parasite helps keep balance in the mutually beneficial relationship between figs and pollinators. What sort of a relationship do figs and their pollinators have?

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Basically, fig fruit contain many ovules (which may end up producing a seed or may become the home for a wasp larva).

Pollinating wasps preferentially lay their eggs in ovules near the center of the fruit — and several hypotheses have been proposed that might explain why they do this.

For example, if you were confused by the paragraph about "optimal foraging" and really wanted to understand it, you could start by looking up reference 24, an article called "Oviposition strategies, host coercion and the stable exploitation of figs by their hosts." This is not a regular feature of journal articles, but a unique feature of this journal.

It is essentially a jargon-free take on the work, aimed at making the research accessible to the general public. Lucky you, if the paper you are reading has one of these! They present key information graphically to helps readers visualize patterns in the data.

Figures are referred to at the appropriate place in the text.

Term Paper Evolution

When you see a reference to a figure, stop and spend some time studying the figure!This gets at the idea of evolutionary stability — the ability of a particular trait or set of traits (in this case, the traits associated with the mutualism between figs and their pollinators) to be maintained for millions of years, despite all the random mutations that might be more advantageous for an individual and allow the organisms to evolve a different set of traits.The second paragraph explains the basic biology of figs' pollination by wasps — and why this mutualism might be evolutionarily unstable: "Trees need to produce both wasps and seeds for the mutualism to persist, but natural selection should favour wasps that exploit the maximum number of fig ovules in the short term, resulting in a conflict of interest between wasp and tree." The third paragraph explains more about fig fruits and wasp egg-laying, as well as hypotheses to explain these observations.This might mean you have to look up some vocabulary words. The introduction is a short background section that explains the significance of this particular research within the context of what is already known.The introduction summarizes the authors' questions or hypotheses and the approach that they propose to address them.These references can be a handy way for you to learn about an area of research.If there is something in the introduction that you don't understand, you can look up the reference associated with that idea to find out more.In the article below, weve annotated basic parts of a scientific paper in evolutionary biology to give you an idea of how to extract the important information.Keep in mind that while different journals use different article formats, all of the major sections below are present in other scientific papers, but may occur in a different order or may be combined. The title of a scientific paper usually summarizes the most important point being made.This paragraph may be confusing and is not essential to understanding the main point of the paper.The fifth paragraph describes some specific hypotheses about why eggs laid near the center of the fig might ultimately do better — including the hypothesis that the authors want to explore: that "parasites are more likely to parasitize pollinator offspring in the outer layers of ovules," and that this is one of the selection pressures that favored the evolution of pollinating wasps that prefer to lay eggs near the center of the fig.

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