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Continuous Variation vs. Discontinuous Variation: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Published on December 20, 2023
Continuous variation refers to gradual differences across a range (e.g., height). Discontinuous variation refers to distinct, separate categories (e.g., blood types).

Key Differences

Continuous variation refers to traits that show a range of forms, like height or skin color. Discontinuous variation, on the other hand, includes traits that fall into distinct categories, like blood types or eye color.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023
Continuous variation often results from the influence of many genes (polygenic inheritance). Discontinuous variation typically results from a single gene or a few genes, leading to clearly defined characteristics.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023
Environmental factors greatly influence continuous variation, leading to a wide spectrum of phenotypes. In contrast, discontinuous variation is less influenced by the environment and shows clear-cut genetic traits.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023
Traits showing continuous variation can be measured and quantified, such as weight or intelligence. Traits with discontinuous variation are categorical, like the presence or absence of a certain genetic disorder.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 20, 2023
In continuous variation, intermediates between extremes are common. Discontinuous variation, however, does not typically have intermediates; traits are distinctly separate.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 20, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Nature of Traits

Gradual, spectrum of forms
Distinct, categorical forms
Huma Saeed
Dec 20, 2023

Genetic Influence

Often polygenic (many genes)
Typically monogenic (single gene)
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023

Environmental Influence

High
Low
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023

Measurement

Quantifiable (e.g., height, weight)
Categorical (e.g., blood type, eye color)
Janet White
Dec 20, 2023

Intermediate Forms

Common (e.g., varying heights)
Rare (e.g., distinct blood types)
Aimie Carlson
Dec 20, 2023
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Continuous Variation and Discontinuous Variation Definitions

Continuous Variation

Variation in a trait across a spectrum.
Height in humans is an example of continuous variation.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Discontinuous Variation

Characteristics less influenced by the environment.
Earlobe attachment is an inherited discontinuous variation.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Continuous Variation

Phenotypes that are measurable and quantifiable.
Body weight is a classic case of continuous variation.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Discontinuous Variation

Variation without intermediate forms.
The presence or absence of a widow's peak is a discontinuous variation.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Continuous Variation

Gradual differences in a characteristic.
Skin color exhibits continuous variation.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Discontinuous Variation

Categorical and non-quantifiable traits.
The ability to roll one's tongue demonstrates discontinuous variation.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Continuous Variation

Variation influenced by environmental factors.
Continuous variation in plant growth is affected by sunlight and water.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Discontinuous Variation

Variation with distinct, separate categories.
Blood types are a form of discontinuous variation.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Continuous Variation

Traits influenced by multiple genes.
Intelligence shows continuous variation due to many genetic factors.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Discontinuous Variation

Traits often determined by a single gene.
Pea plants' flower color is a discontinuous variation.
Huma Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

FAQs

What is discontinuous variation?

It refers to traits that fall into distinct categories.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023

Are discontinuous traits influenced by the environment?

Generally, they are less affected by environmental factors.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 20, 2023

Can continuous variation be measured?

Yes, traits can be quantified.
Janet White
Dec 20, 2023

How are traits in continuous variation inherited?

Through multiple genes (polygenic inheritance).
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023

How is discontinuous variation inherited?

Typically from a single gene or a few genes.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023

Can environmental factors affect continuous variation?

Yes, they significantly influence it.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023

Are discontinuous traits measurable?

They are categorical, so not in the same way.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023

What is continuous variation?

It's a gradual range of differences in a trait.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023

Give an example of discontinuous variation.

Blood types are a classic example.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 20, 2023

Give an example of continuous variation.

Human height is an example.
Janet White
Dec 20, 2023

What role do genes play in discontinuous variation?

A single gene or a few genes dictate these traits.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023

Are continuous traits common in nature?

Yes, they are quite common.
Janet White
Dec 20, 2023

Can continuous variation change over time?

Yes, especially under environmental influences.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 20, 2023

Is weight a continuous variation?

Yes, it varies along a spectrum.
Harlon Moss
Dec 20, 2023

Is discontinuous variation stable over generations?

Generally, it remains consistent across generations.
Janet White
Dec 20, 2023

Are there intermediates in discontinuous variation?

No, traits are distinct and separate.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023

Are discontinuous traits rare?

Not necessarily rare, but less common than continuous traits.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023

Does continuous variation have intermediates?

Yes, intermediates are common.
Janet White
Dec 20, 2023

Is eye color a discontinuous variation?

Yes, as it falls into distinct categories.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 20, 2023

What role do genes play in continuous variation?

Multiple genes contribute to these traits.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 20, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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