In biology, coevolution occurs when two or more species reciprocally affect each other's evolution.
Charles Darwin mentioned evolutionary interactions between flowering plants and insects in On the Origin of Species. The term coevolution was coined by Paul R. Ehrlich and Peter H. Raven in 1964. The theoretical underpinnings of coevolution are now well-developed, and demonstrate that coevolution can play an important role in driving major evolutionary transitions such as the evolution of sexual reproduction or shifts in ploidy. More recently, it has also been demonstrated that coevolution influences the structure and function of ecological communities as well as the dynamics of infectious disease.
Each party in a coevolutionary relationship exerts selective pressures on the other, thereby affecting each other's evolution. Coevolution includes many forms of mutualism, host-parasite, and predator-prey relationships between species, as well as competition within or between species. In many cases, the selective pressures drive an evolutionary arms race between the species involved. Pairwise or specific coevolution, between exactly two species, is not the only possibility; in guild or diffuse coevolution, several species may evolve a trait in reciprocity with a trait in another species, as has happened between the flowering plants and pollinating insects such as bees, flies, and beetles.
Coevolution is primarily a biological concept, but researchers have applied it by analogy to fields such as computer science, sociology, and astronomy.
Coevolution is the evolution of two or more species which reciprocally affect each other, sometimes creating a mutualistic relationship between the species. Such relationships can be of many different types.
Flowers appeared and diversified relatively suddenly in the fossil record, creating what Charles Darwin described as the "abominable mystery" of how they had evolved so quickly; he considered whether coevolution could be the explanation. He first mentioned coevolution as a possibility in On the Origin of Species, and developed the concept further in Fertilisation of Orchids.
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