Interactions between Plants and Animals

Some of the best examples of co-evolution involve interactions among plants, animals, and insects. These interactions revolve around:

1 Sex (more specifically, reproduction through pollination or seed dispersal): Plant reproduction relies on getting pollinated or sowing seeds. The flowers of some plants, for example, require particular pollinators; not just any animal or insect will do. In this case, the co-evolutionary pair — the plant and the specific pollinator — evolve to maximize their own fitness, each trying to get more of what's good for it from the other.

Other plants don't require a specific pollinator; they share pollinators with other plants. In these cases, the plant species have to compete, so natural selection favors traits that make each species better than the other at attracting pollinators.

1 Protection in exchange for room and board: In some systems, plants provide food and shelter to insects in return for the protection that the insects provide.

Although these instances certainly aren't the only examples of co-evolution, they offer a good glimpse of the way interactions among species can influence the characteristics that the species evolve. Also, they let me write about a moth that has a 10-inch-long tongue.

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