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The dangers of irreversibility in an age of increased uncertainty: revisiting plasticity in invertebrates

Hoffmann, AA; Bridle, J; (2021) The dangers of irreversibility in an age of increased uncertainty: revisiting plasticity in invertebrates. Oikos 10.1111/oik.08715. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Plasticity in traits in response to environmental conditions can increase fitness, expanding the range of environments within which a genotype can generate viable and productive phenotypes, and therefore when and where populations can persist and diversify in ecological space. Adaptive forms of plasticity in invertebrates are diverse, ranging from polyphenism and diapause to behavioural thermoregulation and optimal foraging. Local patterns of environmental variation and developmental constraints will dictate which of these forms evolves. Here we review the core idea that the use of narrow developmental windows by invertebrates to attain specific types of phenotypic changes reduces their reversibility, while increasing their magnitude. These tradeoffs dictate the costs and effectiveness of plasticity in buffering environmental variation. In particular, plastic responses to narrow developmental or environmental windows increase fitness costs when predicted environmental challenges do not materialise, or when the environment changes in unpredictable ways. We then explore the converse idea that increasing trait reversibility depends on extending the period for which genotypes are sensitive to the environment, but also narrows the range of plastic phenotypes that can be generated. Considering these findings together, we would expect that the costs, benefits and constraints of reversible versus irreversible plasticity affect the rate and magnitude of adaptive responses to rapidly changing and novel environments. However, such predictions have rarely been tested or included in theoretical models. Identifying this knowledge gap leads us to propose new research directions to provide a deeper understanding of the evolution of plasticity in invertebrates and other organisms. We illustrate these possible directions through examples of Drosophila adapting to thermal stress.

Type: Article
Title: The dangers of irreversibility in an age of increased uncertainty: revisiting plasticity in invertebrates
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/oik.08715
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.08715
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Authors. Oikos published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
Keywords: climate change, Drosophila, environmental sensitivity, predictability, variation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10137203
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