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Mechanisms by which phenotypic plasticity affects adaptive divergence and ecological speciation
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Metapopulation Research Centre, Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Department of Ecology and Genetics/Limnology, Uppsala University.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3982-0829
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
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2015 (English)In: American Naturalist, ISSN 0003-0147, E-ISSN 1537-5323, Vol. 186, no 5, E126-E143 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of one genotype to produce different phenotypes depending on environmental conditions. Several conceptual models emphasize the role of plasticity in promoting reproductive isolation and, ultimately, speciation in populations that forage on two or more resources. These models predict that plasticity plays a critical role in the early stages of speciation, prior to genetic divergence, by facilitating fast phenotypic divergence. The ability to plastically express alternative phenotypes may, however, interfere with the early phase of the formation of reproductive barriers, especially in the absence of geographic barriers. Here, we quantitatively investigate mechanisms under which plasticity can influence progress toward adaptive genetic diversification and ecological speciation. We use a stochastic, individual-based model of a predator-prey system incorporating sexual reproduction and mate choice in the predator. Our results show that evolving plasticity promotes the evolution of reproductive isolation under diversifying environments when individuals are able to correctly select a more profitable habitat with respect to their phenotypes (i.e., adaptive habitat choice) and to assortatively mate with relatively similar phenotypes. On the other hand, plasticity facilitates the evolution of plastic generalists when individuals have a limited capacity for adaptive habitat choice. We conclude that plasticity can accelerate the evolution of a reproductive barrier toward adaptive diversification and ecological speciation through enhanced phenotypic differentiation between diverging phenotypes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
University of Chicago Press, 2015. Vol. 186, no 5, E126-E143 p.
Keyword [en]
assortative mating, eco-evolutionary dynamics, ecological, speciation, habitat choice, individual-based model, phenotypic plasticity
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-87677DOI: 10.1086/683231ISI: 000363928900003OAI: diva2:710345

Originally published in thesis in manuscript form.

Available from: 2014-04-07 Created: 2014-04-07 Last updated: 2015-12-02Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Evolutionary consequences of ecological interactions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evolutionary consequences of ecological interactions
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Eco-evolutionary dynamics integrates the reciprocal interactions betweenecology and evolution. These two branches of biology traditionally assumethe other as static for simplicity. However, increasing evidence shows thatthis simplification may not always hold because ecology and evolution canoperate in similar timescales. This thesis theoretically explores how thereciprocal interactions may influence ecological and evolutionary outcomesin four different eco-evolutionary contexts.Many species of non-social animals live in groups. Aggregating ingroups often has both benefits and costs that depend on group size. Thanksto the benefits of aggregation, population growth likely depends positivelyon population density when it is small. This phenomenon, the Allee effect,has been hypothesized to explain the evolution of aggregation behavior. Ifind that the Allee effect alone does not lead to the evolution whenpopulation dynamics is explicitly accounted for. Some other mechanisms,such as frequent needs for colonizing new patches or anti-aggregation,should be invoked to explain why aggregation behavior could evolve.Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of a genotype to express distinctphenotypes when exposed to different environments. Although it is oftenshown to be adaptive and not costly, highly plastic organisms are rare. Paststudies demonstrated some potential reasons. I test another possibility; costsmay arise from sexual selection because highly plastic individuals may beless preferred as a mate. I show that, even in the absence of the direct cost ofplasticity, the level of plasticity remained low at intermediate strengths ofassortative mating. This pattern is robust across wide ranges of parametervalues.Ecological speciation occurs when ecologically divergent selectionbetween environments causes reproductive isolation between divergingsubpopulations. Several verbal models of ecological speciation emphasizethe roles of phenotypic plasticity in promoting speciation. The complexprocesses involved in speciation, however, are difficult to be evaluated byverbal accounts. I quantitatively test the proposed idea in a mechanisticmodel of ecological speciation in the presence and absence of plasticity. Ifind conditions under which plasticity can promote or hinder ecologicalspeciation. Plasticity facilitates speciation by producing a gap in thedistributions of expressed phenotypes, which serves as a barrier to gene flowin an assortatively mating population.Ecosystem ecology and evolutionary biology are the least integratedfields in ecology and evolution. Natural selection operating at the individuallevels on traits governing ecosystem functions may affect ecosystemproperties, which may feedback to individuals. I reviewed this idea anddemonstrate the feedback loop by using a simple consumer-resource model.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2014. 24 p.
adaptive dynamics, eco-evolutionary dynamics, ecological speciation, ecosystem, individual based, population dynamics, phenotypic plasticity, predator-prey, sexual selection
National Category
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-87734 (URN)978-91-7601-018-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-04-29, Naturvetarhuset, N200, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2014-04-08 Created: 2014-04-07 Last updated: 2014-04-08Bibliographically approved

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