Glossary Term: Evolutionary Plasticity

(Phenotypic Plasticity)

Plasticity is usually thought to be an evolutionary adaptation to environmental variation that is reasonably predictable and occurs within the lifespan of an individual organism, as it allows individuals to ‘fit’ their phenotype to different environments. If the optimal phenotype in a given environment changes with environmental conditions, then the ability of individuals to express different traits should be advantageous and thus selected for. Hence, phenotypic plasticity can evolve if Darwinian fitness is increased by changing phenotype. However, the fitness benefits of plasticity can be limited by the energetic costs of plastic responses (e.g. synthesizing new proteins, adjusting expression ratio of isozyme variants, maintaining sensory machinery to detect changes) as well as the predictability and reliability of environmental cues (see Beneficial acclimation hypothesis).

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Created: 2019-06-24 10:55:52 CDT (-0400)
Last modified: 2019-08-06 13:27:26 CDT (-0400)