Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Galapagos Finches & Peppered Moths

Peppered Moths

The previous blog post discussed how animals have adapted due to certain environmental changes. This post will specifically outline how a certain species of moth have had to adapt to changes in the environment and change their colours.

During the Industrial Revolution between mid 1700’s to to mid 1800’s, the United Kingdom were leading the growth in technology compared to other nations at that time. The U.K were innovative which lead them to be able to manufacture products such as; steel, other machines, tools, trail roads, textiles etc… at a greater rate (BBC 2014). The problem with this was large amounts of coal was being used as a power source. Of course back then people didn’t know how to efficiently use resources as research and development in this area wasn’t a great concern. This would result in large amounts of air pollution due to smoke and other environmental concerns such as unethical disposal of chemicals (Mosley 2010).

As it can be seen, an artist’s impression of the Industrial Revolution (Mgina n.d).


Given the fact there was so much air pollution at the time, many species of animal were greatly affected, as their habitats were damaged or their surrounding environment altered. During this period of a species of moth known as the peppered moth had genetic changes (colour) due to this (shown below).

.27 Peppered Moth_DxO

Ox Close Wood (n.d.)

Prior to the Industrial Revolution the black peppered moth were rare, however due to pollution resulting into changes in the environment, they were becoming more common.  This was due to trees in which the moths would camouflage from predators were becoming more darker due to the pollution. Therefore, the black peppered moths were able to escape and hide from predators such as birds, resulting to the more light peppered moth being easy targets resulting to the population declining.


From the picture above, on the left we have the black peppered moth and the right peppered moth. As it can be clearly seen the black peppered moth has a greater advantage in terms of camouflage therefore their survival rate was much higher.


Galapagos Finches 

Charles Darwin, a well renown biologist and naturalist made an extremely important discovery that contributed to the idea of natural selection. During one of his voyages to the Galapagos Islands, Darwin had discovered a group of finches known as the Galapagos finch (or Drawin’s finches). These finches were similar to some degree, however, upon closer examination Darwin had noticed each finch had different beak sizes(. He realised the different beak sizes were due to the different food sources that were available on the island, meaning they had to adapt to changes in their environment (Earth Watch n.d). This is known as as ‘adaptive radiation’. For instances, finches with larger beaks had the ability to open nuts much easier and finches with longer beaks as it can be seen from the picture below Grant (2011).



As it can be seen, each type of finch had a certain beak for different purposes.

Animals must have the ability to adapt to their surrounding environment, as our planet is constantly changing. Humans are one of the main contributors to such changes. The next blog will discuss how we as humans can make positive changes to the environment.

BBC 2014, The Industrial Revolution, BBC, retrieved 2 May 2016,  <;.

Mosley, S 2010, ‘Environmental History of Air Pollution and Protection’, Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, <;

Ox Close Wood n.d, Peppered Moth, Biston betularia, photograph, retrieved 2 May 2016, <;.

Earth Watch n.d, Darwin’s Finches and Natural Selection in The Galapagos, retrieved 2 May 2016, <;.

Grant, P 2011, Natural Selection, My Web, retrieved 2 May 2016, <’finch-study.html&gt;.

Mgina, E n.d, Industrial Revolution, retrieved 2 May 2016, <;.



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This entry was posted on May 8, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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