The passage below is accompanied by a set of three questions. Choose the best answer to each question.
Scientists have long recognised the incredible diversity within a species. But they thought it reflected evolutionary changes that unfolded imperceptibly, over millions of years. That divergence between populations within a species was enforced, according to Ernst Mayr, the great evolutionary biologist of the 1940s, when a population was separated from the rest of the species by a mountain range or a desert, preventing breeding across the divide over geologic scales of time. Without the separation, gene flow was relentless. But as the separation persisted, the isolated population grew apart and speciation occurred.
In the mid-1960s, the biologist Paul Ehrlich — author of The Population Bomb (1968) — and his Stanford University colleague Peter Raven challenged Mayr's ideas about speciation. They had studied checkerspot butterflies living in the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in California, and it soon became clear that they were not examining a single population. Through years of capturing, marking and then recapturing the butterflies, they were able to prove that within the population, spread over just 50 acres of suitable checkerspot habitat, there were three groups that rarely interacted despite their very close proximity.
Among other ideas, Ehrlich and Raven argued in a now classic paper from 1969 that gene flow was not as predictable and ubiquitous as Mayr and his cohort maintained, and thus evolutionary divergence between neighbouring groups in a population was probably common. They also asserted that isolation and gene flow were less important to evolutionary divergence than natural selection (when factors such as mate choice, weather, disease or predation cause better-adapted individuals to survive and pass on their successful genetic traits). For example, Ehrlich and Raven suggested that, without the force of natural selection, an isolated population would remain unchanged and that, in other scenarios, natural selection could be strong enough to overpower gene flow...
The author discusses Mayr, Ehrlich and Raven to demonstrate that
The author provides 'Checkerspot butterflies' as an example to drive home his point. The primary intention of the author is not to discuss checkerspot butterflies. Therefore, we can eliminate option D. Option B can be eliminated as well since the author has not mentioned that
the theories are widely accepted.
The author explains the contrasting views of the scientists to show that speciation is a debated topic. Option A states that evolution is a controversial topic. The passage deals with speciation. We cannot generalize speciation to evolution. Also, the intention of the author is to show the differing views among the scientists rather than to establish that the topic is controversial. Therefore, option C is the right answer.
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