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The Theory of EvolutionPrinciples, Concepts, and Assumptions$
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Samuel M. Scheiner and David P. Mindell

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226671024

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226671338.001.0001

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The Theory of the Evolution of Phenotypic Plasticity

The Theory of the Evolution of Phenotypic Plasticity

(p.254) Thirteen The Theory of the Evolution of Phenotypic Plasticity
The Theory of Evolution

Samuel M. Scheiner

University of Chicago Press

The theory of the evolution of phenotypic plasticity deals the role of the environment in determining the relationship between genotype and phenotype. The role of phenotypic plasticity in evolutionary processes was recognized as early as the 19th century, but did not rise to prominence until the 1980s. The chapter discussed the factors that promote and inhibit the evolution of adaptive phenotypic plasticity. For phenotypic plasticity to be favored by selection: (1) there must be a heterogeneous environment that affects the phenotypic expression of traits, (2) there must be spatial and/or temporal variation in the optimal phenotypic value of those plastic traits, (3) individuals or lineages must experience that environmental heterogeneity, and (4) those plastic traits must meet the other conditions required for evolution by natural selection. Three types of conditions can limit that evolution: (1) maintenance, production, or information-acquisition costs, (2) the lack of a reliable cue about the future state of the environment, and (3) developmental limitations. The chapter also examines the evolutionary consequences of phenotypic plasticity. The presence of phenotypic plasticity can act to either inhibit or enhance genetic differentiation, local adaptation, and species divergence. More information is needed on the prevalence of adaptive phenotypic plasticity.

Keywords:   environmental heterogeneity, phenotypic plasticity, plasticity cost, plasticity limitation, local adaptation, genetic differentiation

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