What Are the Advantages of Artificial Selection?

One advantage of artificial selection, a process by which humans control the development of a plant or animal by choosing which traits to emphasize during breeding, is that it allows for an emphasis on certain beneficial traits, such as obedience in dogs. Humans have been practicing artificial selection for thousands of years, resulting in plants and animals that are dramatically different than their naturally occurring ancestors.

Artificial selection is a counterpoint to natural selection because it involves deliberate breeding to bring out prioritized traits in domesticated plants and animals. Though dogs are descended from wolves, domesticated dogs such as toy poodles and corgis don't have a lot in common with their wild ancestors. This is because humans have been breeding dogs for companionship and work for centuries, meaning that dogs had to be bred for traits that are desirable in domesticated animals, including obedience and docility. This is an example of artificial selection because the process was deliberate.

The produce section of any major grocery store is a great testament to the power of artificial selection and the ways it has benefited humans. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage all have a common ancestor in wild mustard, which is considerably more bitter than its modern counterparts. Additionally, humans have managed to create a wide variety of vegetables from a single common ancestor, leading to a greater variety of nutrient sources, ultimately benefiting both human health and cuisine.