New book on coevolution by biologist John
By Tim Stephens
Coevolution shapes the interactions between species, whether
predators and prey, hosts and parasites, or mutually beneficial
partnerships such as those between flowering plants and their
pollinators. In fact, most plants and animals require coevolved
interactions with other species in order to survive.
John N. Thompson, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology,
has now published his third book on the subject of coevolution,
The Geographic Mosaic of Coevolution (University of Chicago
Thompson defines coevolution as "reciprocal evolutionary
change in interacting species driven by natural selection."
It is one of the most important processes in the evolution and
organization of life on Earth.
"One of the things we've come to realize is that much
of evolution turns out to be coevolution, and ecological communities
are based on these deeply coevolved relationships between species,"
Thompson's research and books have been highly influential
in the development of coevolution as a field of research. His
previous book, The Coevolutionary Process (1994) provided
the framework for a geographic mosaic theory of coevolution,
which emphasizes that every species is a collection of genetically
distinct populations that are linked across landscapes, resulting
in complex geographic mosaics of species interactions that can
evolve differently in different locations.
The field has developed rapidly over the past ten years. In
the new book, Thompson integrates approaches from evolutionary
ecology, population genetics, phylogeography, systematics, evolutionary
biochemistry and physiology, and molecular biology. Using models,
data, and hypotheses to develop a complete conceptual framework,
the book draws on examples from a wide range of taxa and environments,
illustrating the expanding breadth and depth of research in
Email this story
Return to Front Page