Assortative mating can limit the evolution of phenotypic plasticity

Nonaka, E., Brännström, Å., & Svanback, R. (2014). Assortative mating can limit the evolution of phenotypic plasticity. Evolutionary Ecology 28 (6) 1057-1074. 10.1007/s10682-014-9728-5.

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Phenotypic plasticity, the ability to adjust phenotype to the exposed environment, is often advantageous for organisms living in heterogeneous environments. Although the degree of plasticity appears limited in nature, many studies have reported low costs of plasticity in various species. Existing studies argue for ecological, genetic, or physiological costs or selection eliminating plasticity with high costs, but have not considered costs arising from sexual selection. Here, we show that sexual selection caused by mate choice can impede the evolution of phenotypic plasticity in a trait used for mate choice. Plasticity can remain low to moderate even in the absence of physiological or genetic costs, when individuals phenotypically adapted to contrasting environments through plasticity can mate with each other and choose mates based on phenotypic similarity. Because the non-choosy sex (i.e., males) with lower degrees of plasticity are more favored in matings by the choosy sex (i.e., females) adapted to different environments, directional selection toward higher degrees of plasticity is constrained by sexual selection. This occurs at intermediate strengths of female choosiness in the range of the parameter value we examined. Our results demonstrate that mate choice is a potential source of an indirect cost to phenotypic plasticity in a sexually selected plastic trait.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Assortative mating; Disruptive selection; Eco-evolutionary; Mate choice; Phenotypic plasticity; Sexual selection
Research Programs: Evolution and Ecology (EEP)
Bibliographic Reference: Evolutionary Ecology; 28(6):1057-1074 (November 2014) (Published online 22 July 2014)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:50
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:24

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