Coevolution, or coevolution, is the reciprocal evolutionary change in a set of interacting populations over time resulting from the interactions between those populations. Usually, the interacting populations are different species, like plant-pollinator, predator-prey, or host-parasite. Some of the first scientific papers to use the term coevolution in the middle of the twentieth century studied these systems. In 1964, Erlich and Raven published a now famous study of the coevolution of butterflies and their interactions with flowers, but even earlier, in 1958, Mode published his mathematical model on the coevolution of obligate parasites and their hosts.
Note that the term 'coevolution' has a rather broad scope. For instance, at the global scale, one may refer to the coevolution between humankind and the biosphere. However, in evolutionary ecology, we are downscaling to the level of ecosystems, biological communities, and populations. Occasionally, the same coevolutionary terminology is extended to the discussion of reciprocal coevolutionary change between males and females of the same species as a result of sexual selection. In all cases, coevolution implies evolutionary changes resulting from interactions, so one must first understand the major types of ecological interactions, primarily mutualism and antagonism, and their potential coevolutionary results. This article provides an overview of coevolution as the result of ecological interactions. The major evolutionary results of mutualism, antagonism, and mixed ecological interactions are each discussed using archetypal examples and current mathematical theory. Finally, potential confounding factors in the research of coevolution are discussed.
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