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Strong phenotypic plasticity limits potential for evolutionary responses to climate change
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Number of Authors: 4
2018 (English)In: Nature Communications, ISSN 2041-1723, E-ISSN 2041-1723, Vol. 9, article id 1005Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Phenotypic plasticity, the expression of multiple phenotypes from one genome, is a wide-spread adaptation to short-term environmental fluctuations, but whether it facilitates evolutionary adaptation to climate change remains contentious. Here, we investigate seasonal plasticity and adaptive potential in an Afrotropical butterfly expressing distinct phenotypes in dry and wet seasons. We assess the transcriptional architecture of plasticity in a full-factorial analysis of heritable and environmental effects across 72 individuals, and reveal pervasive gene expression differences between the seasonal phenotypes. Strikingly, intra-population genetic variation for plasticity is largely absent, consistent with specialisation to a particular environmental cue reliably predicting seasonal transitions. Under climate change, deteriorating accuracy of predictive cues will likely aggravate maladaptive phenotype-environment mismatches and increase selective pressures on reaction norms. However, the observed paucity of genetic variation for plasticity limits evolutionary responses, potentially weakening prospects for population persistence. Thus, seasonally plastic species may be especially vulnerable to climate change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 9, article id 1005
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-154724DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03384-9ISI: 000427007700014PubMedID: 29520061OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-154724DiVA, id: diva2:1195056
Available from: 2018-04-04 Created: 2018-04-04 Last updated: 2018-04-04Bibliographically approved

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