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Adaptive use of information during growth can explain long-term effects of early life experiences

English, Sinead; Fawcett, Tim W.; Higginson, Andrew D.; Trimmer, Pete C. and Uller, Tobias LU (2016) In American Naturalist 187(5). p.620-632
Abstract

Development is a continuous process during which individuals gain information about their environment and adjust their phenotype accordingly. In many natural systems, individuals are particularly sensitive to early life experiences, even in the absence of later constraints on plasticity. Recent models have highlighted how the adaptive use of information can explain age-dependent plasticity. These models assume that information gain and phenotypic adjustments either cannot occur simultaneously or are completely independent. This assumption is not valid in the context of growth, where finding food results both in a size increase and learning about food availability. Here, we describe a simple model of growth to provide proof of principle... (More)

Development is a continuous process during which individuals gain information about their environment and adjust their phenotype accordingly. In many natural systems, individuals are particularly sensitive to early life experiences, even in the absence of later constraints on plasticity. Recent models have highlighted how the adaptive use of information can explain age-dependent plasticity. These models assume that information gain and phenotypic adjustments either cannot occur simultaneously or are completely independent. This assumption is not valid in the context of growth, where finding food results both in a size increase and learning about food availability. Here, we describe a simple model of growth to provide proof of principle that long-termeffects of early life experiences can arise through the coupled dynamics of information acquisition and phenotypic change in the absence of direct constraints on plasticity. The increase in reproductive value from gaining information and sensitivity of behavior to experiences declines across development. Early life experiences have longterm impacts on age of maturity, yet-due to compensatory changes in behavior-our model predicts no substantial effects on reproductive success. We discuss how the evolution of sensitive windows can be explained by experiences having short-term effects on informational and phenotypic states, which generate long-term effects on life-history decisions.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Bayesian updating, Development, Information use, Plasticity, Sensitive periods, State dependence
in
American Naturalist
volume
187
issue
5
pages
13 pages
publisher
University of Chicago Press
external identifiers
  • scopus:84962057233
  • wos:000374839900009
ISSN
0003-0147
DOI
10.1086/685644
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
6f0d8767-c8d6-4e44-b529-bb162207e99b
date added to LUP
2016-05-10 12:17:42
date last changed
2017-06-11 05:05:33
@article{6f0d8767-c8d6-4e44-b529-bb162207e99b,
  abstract     = {<p>Development is a continuous process during which individuals gain information about their environment and adjust their phenotype accordingly. In many natural systems, individuals are particularly sensitive to early life experiences, even in the absence of later constraints on plasticity. Recent models have highlighted how the adaptive use of information can explain age-dependent plasticity. These models assume that information gain and phenotypic adjustments either cannot occur simultaneously or are completely independent. This assumption is not valid in the context of growth, where finding food results both in a size increase and learning about food availability. Here, we describe a simple model of growth to provide proof of principle that long-termeffects of early life experiences can arise through the coupled dynamics of information acquisition and phenotypic change in the absence of direct constraints on plasticity. The increase in reproductive value from gaining information and sensitivity of behavior to experiences declines across development. Early life experiences have longterm impacts on age of maturity, yet-due to compensatory changes in behavior-our model predicts no substantial effects on reproductive success. We discuss how the evolution of sensitive windows can be explained by experiences having short-term effects on informational and phenotypic states, which generate long-term effects on life-history decisions.</p>},
  author       = {English, Sinead and Fawcett, Tim W. and Higginson, Andrew D. and Trimmer, Pete C. and Uller, Tobias},
  issn         = {0003-0147},
  keyword      = {Bayesian updating,Development,Information use,Plasticity,Sensitive periods,State dependence},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {05},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {620--632},
  publisher    = {University of Chicago Press},
  series       = {American Naturalist},
  title        = {Adaptive use of information during growth can explain long-term effects of early life experiences},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/685644},
  volume       = {187},
  year         = {2016},
}