The relative importance of plasticity versus genetic differentiation in explaining between population differences; a meta‐analysis

Megan A. Stamp, Jarrod D. Hadfield

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

Abstract

Both plasticity and genetic differentiation can contribute to phenotypic differences between populations. Using data on non‐fitness traits from reciprocal transplant studies, we show that approximately 60% of traits exhibit co‐gradient variation whereby genetic differences and plasticity‐induced differences between populations are the same sign. In these cases, plasticity is about twice as important as genetic differentiation in explaining phenotypic divergence. In contrast to fitness traits, the amount of genotype by environment interaction is small. Of the 40% of traits that exhibit counter‐gradient variation the majority seem to be hyperplastic whereby non‐native individuals express phenotypes that exceed those of native individuals. In about 20% of cases plasticity causes non‐native phenotypes to diverge from the native phenotype to a greater extent than if plasticity was absent, consistent with maladaptive plasticity. The degree to which genetic differentiation versus plasticity can explain phenotypic divergence varies a lot between species, but our proxies for motility and migration explain little of this variation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1432–1441
Number of pages10
JournalEcology Letters
Volume23
Issue number10
Early online date12 Jul 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • counter-gradient variation
  • gene flow
  • local adaptation
  • phenotypic plasticity

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