Evolution is an intricate process with many pieces. Evolution can happen on a small scale (microevolution) or on a large scale (macroevolution). These two terms will be discussed here.


In the most basic sense-this is evolution on a small scale. This evolution typically occurs in a single population, and often on a short timescale. Microevolution happens when there is a change in gene frequency within this single population. This can happen in a number of ways:

  1. Mutation
  2. Migration
  3. Natural Selection
  4. Genetic Drift

Examples of microevolution:Edit

  • Herbicide, pesticide and antibiotic resistance. This resistance occurs because of natural selection.
  • House sparrows in North America-after being introduced in the mid 1800's, different populations have evolved different characteristics based on where they are found on the continent. In northern areas, the house sparrows are larger, which could help protect them against cold weather.


Macroevolution is evolution on a large scale. Rather than focusing on the evolution of a single species (like house sparrows), macroevolution refers to evolution on groups bigger than a single species. Just like with microevolution, the following processes can create macroevolution, given a large timescale:

  1. Mutation
  2. Migration
  3. Natural Selection
  4. Genetic Drift

Patterns that can be observed in macroevolution (according to

  1. Stability
  2. Gradual change
  3. Rapid change
  4. Adaptive radiations
  5. Extinctions
  6. Co-evolution of 2 or more species
  7. Convergent evolution

Example of macroevolution:Edit

  • Evolution of color vision in primates, as described in Some primates (like humans) have 3 types of pigments which allows us to see very vivid colors. Being able to see richer colors must have been an evolutionary advantage, as many primates and humans now exhibit this trait.


Evolution 101. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2013, from

Macroevolution: Examples from the Primate World | Learn Science at Scitable. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2013, from

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