IMAGE: This is the Red Queen walking randomly.

Van Valen's Red Queen hypothesis is a model of coevolution driven by competitive interactions between species. It contrasts with the stationary or ‘lost world’ model, in which evolution is driven primarily by environmental change.

Pearson, P. N. 2001. Red Queen Hypothesis. eLS. .

Alice in Wonderland meets the Red Queen

When Alice spots the Red Queen, she begins moving toward her.

Of all the scientists in the world, Stenseth and Fortelius are among those who really should have seen this earlier. Both were among the first to write about the 'hat' pattern, and Stenseth has worked on the Red Queen since the 1970s. Although Fortelius hasn't published on the Red Queen, he does have a history of hidden research on the closely related topic, the Law of Constant Extinction. He also participated in a round table meeting on this topic in 2008, convened by Stenseth and featuring Leigh Van Valen himself as a participant. And in the last few years they have again joined forces for a new attempt at this problem, when Fortelius has been a visiting professor at Stenseth's centre of excellence in Oslo.

But, the Red Queen quickly disappears from sight.

In the new paper, Indre Zliobaite, Mikael Fortelius and Nils Chr. Stenseth propose a new interpretation of the Law of Constant Extinction that focusses on the expansion and peaking of species rather than on their extinction. Supporting their argument by data analysis and simulations, they show that the apparent contradiction is only an illusion and that the Hat Pattern is not only compatible with the Law of Constant Extinction, or perhaps better Law of Constant Peaking, but actually predicted by the Red Queen's Hypothesis.


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Science writer wrote a book in which he discussed the debate in theoretical biology over the adaptive benefit of sexual reproduction to those species in which it appears. The connection of the Red Queen to this debate arises from the fact that the traditionally accepted theory () only showed adaptive benefit at the level of the species or group, not at the level of the . By contrast, a Red-Queen-type theory that organisms are running cyclic arms races with their can explain the utility of sexual reproduction at the level of the gene by positing that the role of sex is to preserve genes which are currently disadvantageous, but which will become advantageous against the background of a likely future population of parasites.

Evolution: Library: The Red Queen - PBS

The flowers tell Alice that someonelike her (the Red Queen) often passes through, and Alice decidesto seek this person, mostly as a way to escape more verbal abuse.

Red Queen Hypothesis - The Age of Proboscideans - …

Barnett examines the effects--and unforeseen perils--of competing and winning. He takes a fascinating, in-depth look at two of the most competitive industries--computer manufacturing and commercial banking--and derives some startling conclusions. Organizations that survive competition become stronger competitors--but only in the market contexts in which they succeed. Barnett shows how managers may think their experience will help them thrive in new markets and conditions, when in fact the opposite is likely to be the case. He finds that an organization's competitiveness at any given moment hinges on the organization's historical experience. Through Red Queen competition, weaker competitors fail, or they learn and adapt. This in turn heightens the intensity of competition and further strengthens survivors in an ever-evolving dynamic. Written by a leading organizational theorist, challenges the prevailing wisdom about competition, revealing it to be a force that can make--and break--even the most successful organization.

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Already, in this world, straight can become curvy, and progresscan be made only by going the opposite direction; now, accordingto the Red Queen, hills can become valleys and valleys can becomehills.

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Leigh Van Valen (who died last month) is well known for being an original thinker. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the only way he could publish his most famous idea was to start a journal to print it in. Because of this, the paper is devilishly hard to get hold of: I managed to get a photocopy, with only one page of references missing.
This idea dates back to 1973, and is now called the “Red Queen hypothesis”: that fitness is constant over time because of continual changes in the environment. Although this is the way the hypothesis is stated, it is a subtle mis-representation of the original idea. This is because it has been morphed into something a bit different, when the idea was ripped from its palaeontological roots into the world of population and evolutionary genetics.