Host–parasite coevolution and patterns of adaptation across time and space


S. Gandon, Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, UMR 5175, 1919 route de Mende, F-34293 Montpellier cedex 5, France.
Tel.: +33 467 613423; fax: 33 467 412138; e-mail:


The description of coevolutionary dynamics requires a characterization of the evolutionary dynamics of both the parasite and its host. However, a thorough description of the underlying genetics of the coevolutionary process is often extremely difficult to carry out. We propose that measures of adaptation (mean population fitness) across time or space may represent a feasible alternative approach for characterizing important features of the coevolutionary process. We discuss recent experimental work in the light of simple mathematical models of coevolution to demonstrate the potential power of this phenotypic experimental approach.