The Way Out of the Arms Race

Evolutionary Arms Race

In evolutionary biology, an evolutionary arms race is an evolutionary struggle between competing sets of co-evolving genes that develop adaptations and counter-adaptations against each other, resembling an arms race, which are also examples of positive feedback.[1] The co-evolving gene sets may be in different species, as in an evolutionary arms race between a predator species and its prey (Vermeij, 1987), or a parasite and its host.


Parasites can at times be difficult to distinguish from grazers. Their feeding behavior is similar in many ways, however they are noted for their close association with their host species. While a grazing species such as an elephant may travel many kilometers in a single day, grazing on many plants in the process, parasites form very close associations with their hosts, usually having only one or at most a few in their lifetime. This close living arrangement may be described by the term symbiosis, ‘living together,’ but unlike mutualism the association significantly reduces the fitness of the host.


Mutualism is a biological interaction between two organisms, where each individual derives a fitness benefit (i.e. increased survivorship). Similar interactions within a species are known as co-operation. It can be contrasted with interspecific competition, in which each species experiences reduced fitness, and exploitation, or parasitism, in which one species benefits at the expense of the other.

-Lifted from Wikipedia