A Flutter over the Peppered Moth

15th Sept 2007

Population change in the peppered moth has long been seen as a classic example of natural selection in action. It features in many school biology textbooks and has been subject of some recent controversy. An article on this topic can be found here.

This article mentions a series of experiments being carried out by Dr Michael Majerus of Cambridge University. Previously we stated stated: “Dr Majerus may well come up with good data to support the hypothesis that bird predation has caused changes in the frequency of the different types of peppered moth – but until then school children should be given the opportunity to understand the controversy which surrounds the experiments.”

Dr Majerus has now presented some of his findings at a scientific conference, with evidence that appears to show that natural selection due to predation by birds has indeed taken place, over a period of six years. This is mentioned in the “Random Samples” section of the September 7 issue of Science magazine.

The text and slides of Dr Majerus’ presentation have now been removed*. Whilst Truth in Science welcomes his research, we note that he provides little statistical analysis of his results, whilst making some bold claims (and rather bizarre concluding remarks). We look forward to being able to update our article on the peppered moth when Dr Majerus has published his findings – with significant statistical tests of his results – in a peer-reviewed journal article.

*Updated 12th April 2021