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Emma Weidenhamer

The definition of co-evolution is this: evolution involving a


series of reciprocal changes in two or more noninterbreeding
populations that have a close ecological relationship and act as
agents of natural selection for each other, as the succession of
adaptations of a predator for pursuing and of its prey for fleeing or
evading. So basically, co-evolution occurs when, in adapting to their
environments, two or more organisms evolve together. P1 To "make
the best of" where they live, organisms make use of other
organisms by building a "partnership" with them. Organisms co-
evolve with many species at the same time, because an
environment includes many different types of organisms.

For example, look at the spider crab and the algae. P2 Spider
crabs live in shallow areas of the ocean floor, and greenish-brown
algae lives on the crabs' backs, making the crabs blend in with their
environment, and unnoticeable to predators. P3 The algae get a
good place to live, and the crab gets camouflage.

Another example is the bee and the flower. P4 Bees fly from
flower to flower gathering nectar, which they make into food,
benefiting the bees. When they land in a flower, the bees get some
pollen on their hairy bodies, and when they land in the next flower,
some of the pollen from the first one rubs off, pollinating the plant.
Pollination is when the pollen from one flower gets into another
flower, allowing the plants to reproduce. P7 This benefits the plants.
In this symbiotic relationship, the bees get to eat, and the flowering
plants get to reproduce.

Yet another example is the bacteria and the human. P5 A


certain kind of bacteria lives in the intestines of humans and many
other animals. The human can not digest all of the food that it eats.
The bacteria eat the food that the human can not digest and
partially digest it, allowing the human to finish the job. The bacteria
benefit by getting food, and the human benefits by being able to
digest the food it eats. P6

Another strong case is the ant and acacia mutualism. Here


specific traits in each species appear to have evolved in response to
the interaction. The ant P8 depends on the Acacia plant for food and
housing; acacia depends on ant for protection from potential
herbivore. Specific characters of the plant appear to have evolved
for the maintenance of this mutualism: swollen, hollow thorns - the
ant home; extra-floral nectaries - source of nectar outside the
flower, providing ants with food; leaflet tips - Beltian bodies provide
99% of solid food for larval/adult ants. Specific characters in the ant
that have evolved for the maintenance of this mutualism: defense
against herbivores, and removal of fungal spores from Beltian body
break-points, which prevents fungal pathogens from invading plant
tissues). The main point is that there are traits in both P9 the ant
and the acacia that are traits not normally found in close relatives of
each that are not involved in similar mutualisms: mutualistic traits
have evolved for the interaction in reciprocal fashion.