The evolution of phenotypic plasticity in spatially structured environments: Implications of intraspecific competition, plasticity costs and environmental characteristics

Ernande B & Dieckmann U (2004). The evolution of phenotypic plasticity in spatially structured environments: Implications of intraspecific competition, plasticity costs and environmental characteristics. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 17 (3): 613-628. DOI:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2004.00691.x.

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Abstract

We model the evolution of reaction norms focusing on three aspects: frequency-dependent selection arising from resource competition, maintenance and production costs of phenotypic plasticity, and three characteristics of environmental heterogeneity (frequency of environments, their intrinsic carrying capacity and the sensitivity to phenotypic maladaptation in these environments). We show that (i) reaction norms evolve so as to trade adaptation for acquiring resources against cost avoidance; (ii) maintenance costs cause reaction norms to better adapt to frequent rather than to infrequent environments, whereas production costs do not; and (iii) evolved reaction norms confer better adaptation to environments with low rather than with high intrinsic carrying capacity. The two previous findings contradict earlier theoretical results and originate from two previously unexplored features that are included in our model. First, production costs of phenotypic plasticity are only incurred when a given phenotype is actually produced. Therefore, they are proportional to the frequency of environments, and these frequencies thus affect the selection pressure to avoid costs just as much as the selection pressure to improve adaptation. This prevents the frequency of environments from affecting the evolving reaction norm. Secondly, our model describes the evolution of plasticity for a phenotype determining an individual's capability to acquire resources, and thus its realized carrying capacity. When individuals are distributed randomly across environments, they cannot avoid experiencing environments with intrinsically low carrying capacity. As selection pressures arising from the need to improve adaptation are stronger under such extreme conditions than under mild ones, better adaptation to environments with low rather than with high intrinsic carrying capacity results.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Costs of phenotypic plasticity; Density dependence; Environmental heterogeneity; Evolution; Frequency-dependent selection; Phenotypic plasticity; Reaction norms; Resource competition
Research Programs: Adaptive Dynamics Network (ADN)
Bibliographic Reference: Journal of Evolutionary Biology; 17(3):613-628 (May 2004) (Published online 3 February 2004)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:16
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2016 13:14
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/7157

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