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COEVOLUTION - of butterflies and their host plants noting...

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COEVOLUTION First some definitions: coevolution is a change in the genetic composition of one species (or group) in response to a genetic change in another. More generally, the idea of some reciprocal evolutionary change in interacting species is a strict definition of coevolution. At first glance (or thought), it might seem that everything is involved in coevolution. This assumption might stem from the fact that virtually all organisms interact with other organisms and presumably influence their evolution in some way. But this assumption depends entirely on ones definition of the term Coevolution. The term is usually attributed to Ehrlich and Raven's study of butterflies on plants (1964) but the term was used by others prior to 1964 and the idea was very present in the Origin of Species. Ehrlich and Raven documented the association between species
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Unformatted text preview: of butterflies and their host plants noting that plants' secondary compounds (noxious compounds produced by the plant) determined the usage of certain plants by butterflies. The implication was that the diversity of plants and their "poisonous" secondary compounds contributed to the generation of diversity of butterfly species. Here we have a very general observation of one group of organisms having an influence on another group of organisms. Is this coevolution? Some would argue that it is not good evidence for coevolution because the reciprocal changes have not been documented clearly. Like the issue of defining an adaptation, we should not invoke coevolution without reasonable evidence that the traits in each species were a result of or evolved from the interaction between the two species....
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