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The Case Study: I'm Looking Over a White Striped Clover: A Case of Natural Selection

Journal of College Science Teaching – July/August 2007

The case presented in this article is an exploration of the process of natural selection using white clover (Trifolium repens) as an example. In general, two forms of white clover can be found around the world in various habitats. One type has plain green leaves and the other type produces cyanide as a defense against herbivores and signals the presence of cyanide with white stripes on the leaves. The fact that plain clover survives better in Minnesota (where freezing temperatures cause cyanide to be leaked to the entire plant) and striped clover survives better in North Carolina (where there are warmer temperatures and more molluscan herbivores) is used to illustrate the concept of differing selection pressures leading to adaptations specific to different habitats.
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