Causes and Consequences of Phenotypic Plasticity in Complex Environments.

Affiliation

Department of Biology, 101 T.H. Morgan Building, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0225, USA. Electronic address: [Email]

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.

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,

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