Causes and Consequences of Phenotypic Plasticity in Complex Environments

David F. Westneat, Leslie J. Potts, Katherine L. Sasser, James D. Shaffer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Phenotypic plasticity is a ubiquitous and necessary adaptation of organisms to variable environments, but most environments have multiple dimensions that vary. Many studies have documented plasticity of a trait with respect to variation in multiple environmental factors. Such multidimensional phenotypic plasticity (MDPP) exists at all levels of organismal organization, from the whole organism to within cells. This complexity in plasticity cannot be explained solely by scaling up ideas from models of unidimensional plasticity. MDPP generates new questions about the mechanism and function of plasticity and its role in speciation and population persistence. Here we review empirical and theoretical approaches to plasticity in response to multidimensional environments and we outline new opportunities along with some difficulties facing future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-568
Number of pages14
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Volume34
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for the contributions of all of the participants, especially Joe Deas and David Moldoff, who attended the Multidimensional Plasticity graduate seminar course at the University of Kentucky (UK). D.F.W. was supported by the UK Department of Biology and the National Science Foundation , L.J.P. by the UK Department of Biology, Department of Entomology , a Lymon T. Johnson Graduate Fellowship , and a USDA AFRI Fellowship, K.L.S. by the UK Department of Biology and a Lymon T. Johnson Graduate Fellowship, and J.D.S. by the UK Department of Biology and the UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources during the preparation of the manuscript. They also thank P.H. Crowley, J. Deas, N.J. Dingemanse, J. Wright, faculty and students in evolution and ecology at the University of New South Wales, and several anonymous reviewers for many helpful comments on the manuscript.

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for the contributions of all of the participants, especially Joe Deas and David Moldoff, who attended the Multidimensional Plasticity graduate seminar course at the University of Kentucky (UK). D.F.W. was supported by the UK Department of Biology and the National Science Foundation, L.J.P. by the UK Department of Biology, Department of Entomology, a Lymon T. Johnson Graduate Fellowship, and a USDA AFRI Fellowship, K.L.S. by the UK Department of Biology and a Lymon T. Johnson Graduate Fellowship, and J.D.S. by the UK Department of Biology and the UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources during the preparation of the manuscript. They also thank P.H. Crowley, J. Deas, N.J. Dingemanse, J. Wright, faculty and students in evolution and ecology at the University of New South Wales, and several anonymous reviewers for many helpful comments on the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • G×E×E
  • activational plasticity
  • benefits of plasticity
  • costs of plasticity
  • developmental plasticity
  • flexible stem hypothesis
  • passive plasticity
  • phenotypic equation
  • reaction norm
  • variable environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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