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Chemical Ecology in Antarctic Seas

Chemical interactions can lead to unusual arrangements between species

James McClintock, Bill Baker

Figure 4. Association between the sea butterflyClick to Enlarge Image

All is fair in love, war, and it seems, predation. All three of these conditions exert selection pressures on organisms, who respond in turn, by developing flashy colors, camouflage, spines, teeth, claws and quills. But ecologists are coming to appreciate that the relations between the species can also be much less obvious. Chemicals, such as pheromones and toxins, can profoundly influence the ways that species interact. What this means for ecologists is that the race between predator and prey may not always go to the swift or the toothsome, as is often assumed. Rather, the sluggish and toothless may possess powerful toxins that skew the odds in their favor. And sometimes, our authors reveal, the chemical relations between the species can lead to completely unexpected arrangements.


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