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In biology, co-adaptation, or coadaptation is the process by which two or more species, traits, organs, or genes undergo adaptation as a pair or group. This occurs when two or more characteristics undergo natural selection together in response to the same selective pressure. While the parts may be functionally independent they are only beneficial when together, sometimes leading to increased interdependence. Coadaptation and its specific examples are often seen as evidence for the broader process of coevolution.


For example, take note of the relationship that exists between the ant Pseudomymrex ferruginea and the plant Acacia hindsii. This is generally termed coevolution.


Traits, often at different levels of biological organization. For example, ecophysiology and evolutionary physiology have focused on the coadaptation of behavior with physiology.[1][2][3]


Organs: see the evolution of the eye.

Genes and Gene Complexes[edit]

Genes or gene complexes: see Linkage disequilibrium, epistasis

Examples of coevolution[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Huey, R. B., and A. F. Bennett. 1987. Phylogenetic studies of coadaptation: preferred temperatures versus optimal performance temperatures of lizards. Evolution 41:1098–1115.
  2. ^ Garland, T., Jr., T. 1999. Laboratory endurance capacity predicts variation in field locomotor behaviour among lizard species. Animal Behaviour 57:77–83.
  3. ^ Angilletta Jr, M. J., A. F. Bennett, H. Guderley, C. A. Navas, F. Seebacher, and R. S. Wilson. 2006. Coadaptation: a unifying principle in evolutionary thermal biology. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 79:282–294.

External links[edit]

MICHAEL ALLABY. "co-adaptation." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. 1998. 17 Feb. 2016 <>.