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Phenotypic plasticity and local adaptation in island populations of Rana temporaria
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of a genotype to express different phenotypes in different environments. Despite its common occurrence, few have investigated differences in plasticity between populations, the selection pressures responsible for it, and costs and constraints associated with it. In this thesis, I investigated this by studying local adaptation and phenotypic plasticity in populations of the common frog Rana temporaria, inhibiting islands with different pool types (temporary, permanent or both). The tadpoles develop in these pools, and have to finish metamorphosis before the pool dries out.

I found that the tadpoles were locally adapted both in development time and in phenotypic plasticity of development time. Tadpoles from islands with temporary pools had a genetically shorter development time than tadpoles from islands with permanent pools. The population differentiation in development time, estimated as QST, was larger than the population differentiation in neutral molecular markers (FST), which suggest that divergent selection among the populations is responsible for the differentiation. Moreover, tadpoles from islands with more variation in pool drying regimes had higher phenotypic plasticity in development time than tadpoles from islands with only one pool type present. Interestingly, increased migration among populations did not select for increased plasticity, rather it was the local environmental variation that was important. This adaptation has occurred over a short time scale, as the islands are less than 300 generations old.

In temporary pools, it is adaptive to finish development before the pool dries out. This could be achieved by entering the metamorphosis at a smaller size, as a smaller size takes shorter time to reach. However, I found that there is a minimum threshold size below which tadpoles’ cannot enter metamorphosis, and that there had been no evolution of this threshold size in populations living in temporary environments. That suggests that this developmental threshold is tightly linked to physiological constraints in the developmental process.

Despite their expected importance as constrains on the evolution of plasticity, costs of plasticity are often not found in nature.  However, theories of why they are absent have not been tested empirically. In this thesis, I show that fitness costs of phenotypic plasticity are only found in populations with genotypes expressing high levels of phenotypic plasticity, while in populations with low-plastic genotypes, I find costs of not being plastic. This suggests that costs of plasticity increase with increased level of plasticity in the population, and that might be a reason why costs of plasticity are hard to detect.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Department of Ecology & Environmental Science, Umeå University , 2009. , 58 p.
Keyword [en]
Costs of plasticity, Developmental threshold, FST, Local adaptation, Phenotypic plasticity, Pool drying, QST
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-26936ISBN: 978-91-7264-836-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-26936DiVA: diva2:275166
Distributor:
Institutionen för ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap, 901 87, Umeå
Public defence
2009-11-27, KB3B1 (Stora Hörsalen), KBC, Umeå University, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-11-06 Created: 2009-11-03 Last updated: 2012-01-31Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The degree of adaptive phenotypic plasticity is correlated with the spatial environmental heterogeneity experienced by island populations of Rana temporaria.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The degree of adaptive phenotypic plasticity is correlated with the spatial environmental heterogeneity experienced by island populations of Rana temporaria.
2007 (English)In: Journal of Evolutionary Biology, ISSN 1010-061X, E-ISSN 1420-9101, Vol. 20, no 4, 1288-1297 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Although theoretical models have identified environmental heterogeneity as a prerequisite for the evolution of adaptive plasticity, this relationship has not yet been demonstrated experimentally. Because of pool desiccation risk, adaptation of development rate is important for many amphibians. In a simulated pool-drying experiment, we compared the development time and phenotypic plasticity in development time of populations of the common frog Rana temporaria, originating from 14 neighbouring islands off the coast of northern Sweden. Drying regime of pools used by frogs for breeding differed within and among the islands. We found that the degree of phenotypic plasticity in development time was positively correlated with the spatial variation in the pool-drying regimes present on each island. In addition, local adaptation in development time to the mean drying rate of the pools on each island was found. Hence, our study demonstrates the connection between environmental heterogeneity and developmental plasticity at the island population level, and also highlights the importance of the interplay between local specialization and phenotypic plasticity depending on the local selection pressures.

Keyword
development rate, environmental variation, hydroperiod, local adaptation, phenotypic plasticity, pool drying, Rana temporaria
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-15418 (URN)10.1111/j.1420-9101.2007.01353.x (DOI)17584224 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2007-07-12 Created: 2007-07-12 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
2. Pool desiccation and developmental thresholds in the common frog, Rana temporaria.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Pool desiccation and developmental thresholds in the common frog, Rana temporaria.
2008 (English)In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8452, E-ISSN 1471-2954, Vol. 275, no 1638, 1073-80 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The developmental threshold is the minimum size or condition that a developing organism must have reached in order for a life-history transition to occur. Although developmental thresholds have been observed for many organisms, inter-population variation among natural populations has not been examined. Since isolated populations can be subjected to strong divergent selection, population divergence in developmental thresholds can be predicted if environmental conditions favour fast or slow developmental time in different populations. Amphibian metamorphosis is a well-studied life-history transition, and using a common garden approach we compared the development time and the developmental threshold of metamorphosis in four island populations of the common frog Rana temporaria: two populations originating from islands with only temporary breeding pools and two from islands with permanent pools. As predicted, tadpoles from time-constrained temporary pools had a genetically shorter development time than those from permanent pools. Furthermore, the variation in development time among females from temporary pools was low, consistent with the action of selection on rapid development in this environment. However, there were no clear differences in the developmental thresholds between the populations, indicating that the main response to life in a temporary pool is to shorten the development time.

Keyword
Acclimatization, Animal Feed, Animals, Breeding, Environment, Female, Housing; Animal, Male, Metamorphosis; Biological, Rana temporaria/*growth & development, Sweden, Time Factors
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-11462 (URN)10.1098/rspb.2007.1737 (DOI)18252666 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2009-01-09 Created: 2009-01-09 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
3. Gene flow and selection on phenotypic plasticity in an island system of rana temporaria
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gene flow and selection on phenotypic plasticity in an island system of rana temporaria
Show others...
2011 (English)In: Evolution, ISSN 0014-3820, E-ISSN 1558-5646, Vol. 65, no 3, 684-697 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Gene flow is often considered to be one of the main factors that constrains local adaptation in a heterogeneous environment. However, gene flow may also lead to the evolution of phenotypic plasticity. We investigated the effect of gene flow on local adaptation and phenotypic plasticity in development time in island populations of the common frog Rana temporaria which breed in pools that differ in drying regimes. This was done by investigating associations between traits (measured in a common garden experiment) and selective factors (pool drying regimes and gene flow from other populations inhabiting different environments) by regression analyses and by comparing pairwise F(ST) values (obtained from microsatellite analyses) with pairwise Q(ST) values. We found that the degree of phenotypic plasticity was positively correlated with gene flow from other populations inhabiting different environments (among-island environmental heterogeneity), as well as with local environmental heterogeneity within each population. Furthermore, local adaptation, manifested in the correlation between development time and the degree of pool drying on the islands, appears to have been caused by divergent selection pressures. The local adaptation in development time and phenotypic plasticity is quite remarkable, because the populations are young (less than 300 generations) and substantial gene flow is present among islands.

Keyword
Gene flow;genetic drift;life-history evolution;local adaptation;natural selection;phenotypic plasticity
National Category
Developmental Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-40978 (URN)10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01122.x (DOI)20825480 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2011-03-15 Created: 2011-03-15 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
4. Costs and limits of phenotypic plasticity in island populations of the common frog Rana temporaria under divergent selection pressures
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Costs and limits of phenotypic plasticity in island populations of the common frog Rana temporaria under divergent selection pressures
2009 (English)In: Evolution, ISSN 0014-3820, E-ISSN 1558-5646, Vol. 63, no 6, 1508-1518 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Costs and limits are assumed to be the major constraints on the evolution of phenotypic plasticity. However, despite their expected importance, they have been surprisingly hard to find in natural populations. It has therefore been argued that natural selection might have removed high-cost genotypes in all populations. However, if costs of plasticity are linked to the degree of plasticity expressed, then high costs of plasticity would only be present in populations where increased plasticity is under selection. We tested this hypothesis by investigating costs and limits of adaptive phenotypic plasticity in development time in a common garden study of island populations of the common frog Rana temporaria, which have varying levels of development time and phenotypic plasticity. Costs of plasticity were only found in populations with high-plastic genotypes, whereas the populations with the most canalized genotypes instead had a cost of canalization. Moreover, individuals displaying the most extreme phenotypes also were the most plastic ones, which mean we found no limits of plasticity. This suggests that costs of plasticity increase with increased level of plasticity in the populations, and therefore costs of plasticity might be more commonly found in high-plastic populations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009
Keyword
Costs of plasticity, development time, limits of plasticity, pool permanence, size at metamorphosis
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-23247 (URN)10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00647.x (DOI)
Available from: 2009-06-08 Created: 2009-06-08 Last updated: 2017-12-13

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