Microevolution vs Macroevolution: Difference and Comparison

The changes in the successive generations of an organism that take place due to changes in hereditary and biological factors of that organism are called evolution.

Science today has evolved by leaps and bounds, but the foundation of biological science still stands today on the primary concept of evolution.

The theories of Charles Darwin have helped scientists to develop many concepts. Evolution today can be divided into two subtypes- Microevolution and Macroevolution.

Key Takeaways

  1. Microevolution involves small-scale changes within a species over time, such as variations in gene frequency.
  2. Macroevolution refers to large-scale evolutionary changes, including forming new species and higher taxa.
  3. Both processes contribute to the overall understanding of biological evolution and the diversity of life on Earth.

Microevolution vs Macroevolution

Microevolution refers to a change in gene frequency in intra-species over a short period of time. In microevolution, evolution occurs on a small scale within one population. Macroevolution refers to the change of a large-scale species level that occurs over a long period of time. In macroevolution, new species are formed.

Microevolution vs Macroevolution
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Both occur due to evolutionary changes like natural selection, Genetic drift, Mutation, etc., in which some macroevolution might accumulate and convert into macroevolution, but that doesn’t always happen.

Substantially, both differ in a lot of factors depending on the case. There are various ways to describe evolution along with the genetic change with genetic drift and even gene flow theories by Charles Darwin.

Microevolution can be observed in the genes of a species, whereas Macroevolution can be observed in a large population. When the process of evolution takes place, many variations can be observed in the various aspects of life.

It can be observed in any living thing, like a virus, plants, bacteria, animals, or humans. Such kind of diversification is the reason why each one of us is distinctive from one another.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMicroevolution Macroevolution
DefinitionWhen evolution happens on the small scale and influences a single population, it is known as microevolution. When evolution happens on a large scale and more than a single population level, it is known as macroevolution. 
Genetics The genetic information in microevolution gets altered. The genetic information in macroevolution is deleted as new species are formed. 
Occurs Microevolution makes changes that occur over a short time-space.  Macroevolution makes changes that occur over a longer time-space. 
Changes Microevolution causes changes in the gene pool known as intra-species genetic changes. Macroevolution causes changes by forming new species. 
ExampleThe peppered moth. Development of vertebrates from invertebrates. 

What is Microevolution?

When the genetic frequency is altered over the period, especially within a single population of species, it is microevolution. The entire process takes place over a short time, particularly in a single population.

This process happens over a small time-space, as said, and hence, it can be stated as the reason for the changes in the mutation besides gene flow.

When genes in the body move through physical movements in the same or single population, it causes a transfer in the gene flow during microevolution. Have you ever wondered what the reason behind the gene flow is?

When any individuals emigrate or immigrate among single populations between species, then the gene flow occurs. Hence, this gene flow increases among the population’s genetic diversity.

The chain of evolution where changes occur at the smallest level in a generation of a species that results in a micro-level change is known as microevolution.

Microevolution might turn into macroevolution, but this issue doesn’t happen.

In a given population, the change due to macroevolution is small, as the change takes place at the gene level, where a specific gene in a gene pool might mutate and differ from the rest of the genes in the pool.

What is Macroevolution?

Macroevolution, on the other hand, is the chain of evolution that happens on a large scale over a long period of time.

Macroevolution can be noticed in fossil records, as major changes might result in the deviation of single species into multiple species.

Macroevolution is the result of multiple events of microevolution. Several small changes in a population over a long period of time result in a large-scale evolution. The most important factor behind evolution is Natural Selection.

The theory of evolution by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace explains why natural selection is the driving force behind evolution.

Darwin, in his book Origin of Species, put forward his ideas of evolution by observing organisms and the changes in them. Darwin found that Finches were nonidentical to each other and varied according to the environment they lived in.

Darwin came up with the theory of Natural Selection that explained why the birds of the same species differed from each other. He concluded his theory by listing the major components of evolution – Variation, Inheritance, Selection, and Adaptation.

Main Differences Between Microevolution and Macroevolution

  1. The changes in macroevolution take place in genes, whereas the changes in macroevolution take place above the population level.
  2. Microevolution can be observed through molecular experiments, whereas macroevolution can be observed through fossils.
  3. Microevolution results in small-scale evolutionary changes, whereas macroevolution results in large-scale evolutionary changes.
  4. Microevolution takes place due to natural selection, genetic drift, etc., and an accumulation of many microevolutions results in macroevolution.
  5. Genetic information during microevolution gets altered, whereas, in terms of macroevolution, it is erased or deleted.
References
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1525-142x.2000.00045.x
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1420-9101.2002.00437.x

Last Updated : 09 September, 2023

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