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Scientific Theory A well-tested concept that explains a wide variety of observations Variations Differences between individuals of the same species occur because of the shuffling of genes during meiosis and/or because of genetic mutations. Competition Since food, shelter and other resources are limited, offspring compete with each other to survive. Species that go after the same resources also compete to survive. Species A group of similar organisms that can mate and produce fertile offspring. Natural Selection Individuals that are better adapted to their environment are more likely to survive and reproduce than other members not so well adapted Adaptations Any traits that help an organism survive and reproduce. (Beak shape in a bird for example) Similarities & Differences Members of closely related species will show many similarities but also unique differences, for example, tortoises of different Galapagos Islands. Overproduction Most animals and plants produce more offspring than can survive. Evolution Species can gradually change over many generations to adjust to new conditions. Natural selection leads to evolution.