phenotypic plasticity
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2022 ◽  
Rolf Ergon

It is well documented that populations adapt to climate change by means of phenotypic plasticity, but few reports on adaptation by means of genetically based microevolution caused by selection. Disentanglement of these separate effects requires that the environmental zero-point is defined, and this should not be done arbitrarily. Together with parameter values, the zero-point can be estimated from environmental, phenotypic and fitness data. A prediction error method for this purpose is described, with the feasibility shown by simulations. An estimated environmental zero-point may have large errors, especially for small populations, but may still be a better choice than use of an initial environmental value in a recorded time series, or the mean value, which is often used. Another alternative may be to use the mean value of a past and stationary stochastic environment, which the population is judged to have been fully adapted to, in the sense that the mean fitness was at a global maximum. An exception is here cases with constant phenotypic plasticity, where the microevolutionary change per generation follows directly from phenotypic and environmental data, independent of the chosen environmental zero-point.

2022 ◽  
Antoine Fraimout ◽  
Elisa Päiviö ◽  
Juha Merilä

The occurrence of similar phenotypes in multiple independent populations (viz. parallel evolution) is a testimony of evolution by natural selection. Parallel evolution implies that populations share a common phenotypic response to a common selection pressure associated with habitat similarity. Examples of parallel evolution at the genetic and phenotypic levels are fairly common, but the driving selective agents often remain elusive. Similarly, the role of phenotypic plasticity in facilitating early stages of parallel evolution is unclear. We investigated whether the relaxation of predation pressure associated with the colonization of freshwater ponds by nine-spined sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius) likely explains the divergence in complex behaviours between marine and pond populations, and whether this divergence is parallel. Using laboratory-raised individuals exposed to different levels of perceived predation risk, we calculated vectors of phenotypic divergence for four behavioural traits between habitats and predation risk treatments. We found a significant correlation between the directions of evolutionary divergence and phenotypic plasticity, suggesting that habitat divergence in behaviour is aligned with the response to relaxation of predation pressure. Finally, we show that this alignment is found across multiple pairs of populations, and that the relaxation of predation pressure has likely driven parallel evolution of behaviour in this species.

Biology ◽  
2022 ◽  
Vol 11 (1) ◽  
pp. 64
Giulia Montalbano ◽  
Cristiano Bertolucci ◽  
Tyrone Lucon-Xiccato

Many aspects of animal cognition are plastically adjusted in response to the environment through individual experience. A remarkable example of this cognitive phenotypic plasticity is often observed when comparing individuals raised in a barren environment to individuals raised in an enriched environment. Evidence of enrichment-driven cognitive plasticity in teleost fish continues to grow, but it remains restricted to a few cognitive traits. The purpose of this study was to investigate how environmental enrichment affects multiple cognitive traits (learning, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control) in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata. To reach this goal, we exposed new-born guppies to different treatments: an enrichment environment with social companions, natural substrate, vegetation, and live prey or a barren environment with none of the above. After a month of treatment, we tested the subjects in a battery of three cognitive tasks. Guppies from the enriched environment learned a color discrimination faster compared to guppies from the environment with no enrichments. We observed no difference between guppies of the two treatments in the cognitive flexibility task, requiring selection of a previously unrewarded stimulus, nor in the inhibitory control task, requiring the inhibition of the attack response toward live prey. Overall, the results indicated that environmental enrichment had an influence on guppies’ learning ability, but not on the remaining cognitive functions investigated.

Plants ◽  
2021 ◽  
Vol 11 (1) ◽  
pp. 77
Marwa A. Fakhr ◽  
Yasser S. A. Mazrou ◽  
Faten Y. Ellmouni ◽  
AlBaraa ElSaied ◽  
Mohamed Elhady ◽  

Phenotypic plasticity is frequently highlighted as a key factor in plant invasiveness, as it enables invasive species to adapt to diverse, complicated habitats. Trianthema portulacastrum is one of the most common aggressive species that threaten different crops around the world. Phenotypic plasticity in T. portulacastrum was investigated by comparing variation in germination, vegetative macromorphology, photosynthetic pigments, stomatal complexes, and seed micromorphological traits of 35 samples collected from 35 different localities. One-way cluster analysis and principal component analysis (PCA) were used to classify samples into homogeneous groups based on the measured traits. Pairwise statistical comparisons were conducted between the three resulting groups. The phenotypic plasticity index (PI) was calculated and compared among different groups of characters. Results showed that photosynthetic pigments and macromorphological characteristics had the highest PI, followed by seed micromorphology, and then stomatal complex traits, while germination parameters showed the lowest PI. We propose that soil moisture, salinity, and temperature are the most determinative and explanative variables of the variation between the three classified groups. We strongly believe that the phenotypic plasticity of T. portulacastrum will support species abundance and spread even under expected changes in climatic conditions, in contrast to the vulnerable traditional crops.

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