Phenotypic plasticity in courtship exposed to selection in a human-disturbed environment

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Candolin , U & Jensen , I 2021 , ' Phenotypic plasticity in courtship exposed to selection in a human-disturbed environment ' , Evolutionary Applications , vol. 14 , no. 10 , pp. 2392-2401 .

Title: Phenotypic plasticity in courtship exposed to selection in a human-disturbed environment
Author: Candolin, Ulrika; Jensen, Irene
Contributor organization: Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme
Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)
Behavioural Ecology - Candolin Research Lab
Tvärminne Zoological Station
Date: 2021-10-28
Language: eng
Number of pages: 10
Belongs to series: Evolutionary Applications
ISSN: 1752-4571
Abstract: When environments change rapidly, evolutionary processes may be too slow to rescue populations from decline. Persistence then hinges on plastic adjustments of critical traits to the altered conditions. However, the degree to which species harbour the necessary plasticity and the degree to which the plasticity is exposed to selection in human-disturbed environments are poorly known. We show that a population of the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) harbours variation in plasticity in male courtship behaviour, which is exposed to selection when visibility deteriorates because of enhanced algal growth. Females in clear water show no preference for plastic males, while females in algal-rich, turbid water switch their mate preference towards males with adaptive plasticity. Thus, while the plasticity is not selected for in the original clear water environment, it comes under selection in turbid water. However, much maladaptive plasticity is present in the population, probably because larger turbidity fluctuations have been rare in the past. Thus, the probability that the plasticity will improve the ability of the population to cope with human-induced increases in turbidity-and possibly facilitate genetic adaptation-depends on its prevalence and genetic basis. In conclusion, our results show that rapid human-induced environmental change can expose phenotypic plasticity to selection, but that much of the plasticity can be maladaptive, also when the altered conditions represent extremes of earlier encountered conditions. Thus, whether the plasticity will improve population viability remains questionable.
Subject: algal blooms
environmental change
mate choice
threespine stickleback
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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