Evolving Digital Ecological Networks
When Darwin received an orchid (Angraecum sesquipedale) from Madagascar whose nectary was one and a half feet long, he surmised that there must be a pollinator moth with a proboscis long enough to reach the nectar at the end of the spur . In its attempt to get the nectar, the moth would have pollen rubbed onto its head, and the next orchid visited would then be pollinated. In 1903, such a moth was discovered: Xanthopan morgani. This was a remarkable example of an evolutionary prediction. However, because species coevolve within large networks of multispecies ecological interactions, this example of pairwise coevolution is more the exception than the rule.