Co – evolution

CO – EVOLUTION 7

Co– evolution

Abstract

Amongthe most important parts of an organism are the other organismsaround it. Co-evolution is said to take place in instances when asthey adapt to their environment, these different organisms evolvetogether. These organisms in turn make the best use of each other inthe areas they live in. This can be through eating them, living with,in, or on them, and in other cases build a good relationship withthem. An environment composes of different organisms thus making themto evolve together. Co evolution is thus important phenomenon thuswarranting need for its study basing on how these organisms affecteach other’s evolution and how such interactions shape the ecologyand biogeochemistry of the planet.

Understandingco-evolution

Co-evolutionis the process whereby two or more different organisms or speciesjointly influence each other’s evolution (Thompson, 1994). Itdescribes the changes that occur in these species as they interactwith each other. For instance, the anatomy of the plant could haveinfluence on the anatomy of an herbivore that feeds on the plant.This in turn has some influence in the evolution of the plant thusaffecting the evolution of the herbivore which becomes a continuousprocess. Co-evolution mostly happens in the cases whereby differentspecies have close ecological ties with each other. The variousecological interactions include parasite and host, dinoflagellatesand reef-building corals, and an angiosperm and its pollinator.

Co– evolution between a parasite and its host

Thevarious studies on the local adaption have major concern on thecircumstances under which a certain population adapts to itsenvironment. In the co-evolution between a parasite and its host, thehosts represent the environment for the parasite the vice versa istrue. For instance, aphids are good examples of parasites whereasfood plants are the hosts. The environment changes with dependence onthe evolution of the principal species. Both the aphids and plantsneed to evolve a local adoption. This implies that the aphids oughtto increase its pathogenicity to be able to exploit the plant atoptimal levels while the plant on the other hand has to evolve moreresistance to counter the effects posed by aphids (Thompson, 1994).However, this direction that the parasite and the host take differsin different populations. In situations whereby maybe the parasite orthe host is locally adapted, this locally adapted competitor isusually viewed to possess an evolutionary potential that is higher.As the organisms co-evolve, they as well alter their way of living asa survival technique. For instance, in the case of aphids and plants,the plant may be forced to alter their life-history characteristicssuch as developing a symbiotic relationship with the ladybirds whichin turn feed on the aphids and thus protecting the plant. The plantis thus said to develop survival tactics as a result of theco-evolution between it and the parasite. The parasite too on theother hand is likely to change its mode of attack for survival inthat particular environment as the two organisms evolve together.

Co-evolutionand adaptions critical to speciation and global biodiversity

Speciationis the biological process in which new species are formed asco-evolution takes place. In a natural phenomenon, species are likelyto evolve strongly and rapidly as they respond to the changes inevolution of the species they closely interact with (Laine, 2009).Co-evolution is able to generate altering selective pressures withina certain species to ensure its survival and thus favoringspeciation. Biodiversity on the other hand is the richness of varietyliving conditions of organisms in the natural world. With theconstant provision of new alternatives, variations allow theorganisms and the populations to adapt to the changes in theenvironment. These variations result from the effects posed byorganisms as they co-evolve in a similar environment. For instance,in the case of aphids and plant, the plant is likely to develop newalternatives such as development of thorny branches to fight theeffects of the aphids. During co-evolution between a parasite and itshost, each organism is fighting for its survival in the environment.When the parasites engage in speciation process, the host is likelyto engage in biodiversity measures to counter the effects that resultfrom the parasites. This demonstrates that co-evolution results inadaptions that are important for speciation and global diversity asin the case of the parasite and host co-evolving together.

Contributionof co-evolution to biogeochemical cycles

Biogeochemicalcycle is the process of cycling chemical elements requirements oflife. It could be between living or non-living things. These elementsbasically move from the non-living things to the living things. Theco-evolution environment between a parasite and a host helps thebiogeochemical processes take place. For instance, the plant afterdeveloping resistance to the effects of the aphids may result intheir death because they lack an environment for survival. In turn,this dead aphid produces the biogeochemical cycle elements requiredfor the survival of the plant. The vice versa is also true.

Co-evolutionhelps in the maintenance of health of ecosystems

Asthe parasite and the host evolve together, they help contribute tothe maintenance of a healthy ecosystem. A healthy ecosystem is thedesired level of environmental management that requires adaptions tothe changes taking place in the environment around it (Laine. 2009).As the parasite and its host co-evolve, they as well help theenvironment around them to develop and maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Conclusion

Theco-evolution of organisms is an important but a complicatedphenomenon that takes place in various levels. This takes place in acouple of situations as different species interact closely such asthe aphids and the plant. The relationship between the plant and theaphids could be of benefit to each other or have harmful results toone of the species. This result in the species devising ways thathelp counter the dangers posed to them by the harmful species.Co-evolution also presents a wide range of advantages to theecosystem as a whole. It is unfortunate that the activities of humanbeings sometimes destroy this co-evolution and thus the advantagesthat come with it.

References

Laine,A. (2009). “The role of co-evolution in generating biologicaldiversity – spatially divergent selection trajectories”. Journalof experimental botany,60, 11.

Thompson,J. (1994). Theco-evolutionary process. Chicago:The university of Chicago press.