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the death of nonadapted individuals in the course of the struggle for life. Elimination may be nonselective (general) or selective.
Nonselective elimination occurs as a result of environmental factors that exceed the adaptive capabilities of a given group of individuals (that is, a particular population or species). Among such factors, the most common are natural disasters and the catastrophic effects of human intervention, such as floods, droughts, and changes in the landscape (for example, as a result of urbanization). Large-scale elimination may lead to the extinction of an entire species.
Selective elimination, or the death of part of a population, is caused by some individuals’ lower relative capacity for adaptation (as in the case of the spontaneous thinning out of a forest). Selective elimination is a major factor in evolution, since differential rates of survival result in the multiplication of the better-adapted individuals—that is, natural selection.