Selection on heritable phenotypic plasticity in a wild bird population

D H Nussey, E Postma, P Gienapp, M E Visser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Theoretical and laboratory research suggests that phenotypic plasticity can evolve under selection. However, evidence for its evolutionary potential from the wild is lacking. We present evidence from a Dutch population of great tits (Parus major) for variation in individual plasticity in the timing of reproduction, and we show that this variation is heritable. Selection favoring highly plastic individuals has intensified over a 32-year period. This temporal trend is concurrent with climate change causing a mismatch between the breeding times of the birds and their caterpillar prey. Continued selection on plasticity can act to alleviate this mismatch.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-306
Number of pages3
Issue number5746
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2005


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