PerspectiveEcology

Using information theory to decode network coevolution

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Science  19 Jun 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6497, pp. 1315-1316
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc6344

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Summary

Walking through a forest, you spot a colorful butterfly larva crawling and munching on a leaf—nothing unusual, just one scene in a calm ecological play. And yet, a massive “arms race” rages between plants and their herbivores (1, 2), spurred by information and misinformation transfer. Chemical signals play the role of communicators in a channel that joins each pair of interacting partners. The mechanisms that drive coevolution of these chemically mediated webs have been an active area of research, but a satisfactory theory has yet to be established. On page 1377 of this issue, Zu et al. (3) describe a new application of information theory to coevolutionary dynamics in animal-plant networks.

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