Survival of the fittest: Raw competition? Intense cooperation? Both are essential. Interactions between and within species are among the most powerful evolutionary forces on Earth, and understanding them may be a key to our own survival.
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. 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. Alternatively, the arms race may be between members of the same species, as in the manipulation/sales resistance model of communication (Dawkins & Krebs, 1979) or as in runaway evolution or Red Queen effects. One example of an evolutionary arms race is in sexual conflict between the sexes. Thierry LodÃ© emphasized the role of such antagonist interactions in evolution leading to character displacements and antagonist coevolution. The Escalation hypothesis put forward by Geerat Vermeij speaks of more general conflicts and was originally based on his work with marine gastropod fossils.
Co-evolution itself is not necessarily an arms race. For example, mutualism may drive co-operative adaptations in a pair of species. This is the case with certain flowers' ultra-violet color patterns, whose function is to guide bees to the center of the flower and promote pollination. Co-evolution is also interspecific by definition; it excludes intraspecific (within species) arms races such as sexual conflict.
Evolutionary arms races can even be displayed between humans and micro-organisms, where medical researchers make antibiotics, and micro-organisms evolve into new strains which are more resistant.