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Selection on phenotypic plasticity favors thermal canalization

Svensson, Erik I. LU ; Gomez-Llano, Miguel LU and Waller, John T. LU (2020) In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117(47). p.29767-29774
Abstract

Climate change affects organisms worldwide with profound ecological and evolutionary consequences, often increasing population extinction risk. Climatic factors can increase the strength, variability, or direction of natural selection on phenotypic traits, potentially driving adaptive evolution. Phenotypic plasticity in relation to temperature can allow organisms to maintain fitness in response to increasing temperatures, thereby "buying time" for subsequent genetic adaptation and promoting evolutionary rescue. Although many studies have shown that organisms respond plastically to increasing temperatures, it is unclear if such thermal plasticity is adaptive. Moreover, we know little about how natural and sexual selection operate on... (More)

Climate change affects organisms worldwide with profound ecological and evolutionary consequences, often increasing population extinction risk. Climatic factors can increase the strength, variability, or direction of natural selection on phenotypic traits, potentially driving adaptive evolution. Phenotypic plasticity in relation to temperature can allow organisms to maintain fitness in response to increasing temperatures, thereby "buying time" for subsequent genetic adaptation and promoting evolutionary rescue. Although many studies have shown that organisms respond plastically to increasing temperatures, it is unclear if such thermal plasticity is adaptive. Moreover, we know little about how natural and sexual selection operate on thermal reaction norms, reflecting such plasticity. Here, we investigate how natural and sexual selection shape phenotypic plasticity in two congeneric and phenotypically similar sympatric insect species. We show that the thermal optima for longevity and mating success differ, suggesting temperature-dependent trade-offs between survival and reproduction in both sexes. Males in these species have similar thermal reaction norm slopes but have diverged in baseline body temperature (intercepts), being higher for the more northern species. Natural selection favored reduced thermal reaction norm slopes at high ambient temperatures, suggesting that the current level of thermal plasticity is maladaptive in the context of anthropogenic climate change and that selection now promotes thermal canalization and robustness. Our results show that ectothermic animals also at high latitudes can suffer from overheating and challenge the common view of phenotypic plasticity as being beneficial in harsh and novel environments.

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author
; and
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Canalization, Insects, Phenotypic plasticity, Sexual selection, Thermal adaptation
in
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
volume
117
issue
47
pages
8 pages
publisher
National Acad Sciences
external identifiers
  • scopus:85096889563
  • pmid:33168720
ISSN
0027-8424
DOI
10.1073/pnas.2012454117
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
f09d471b-79a2-416c-a822-58405a87c123
date added to LUP
2020-12-11 10:09:25
date last changed
2021-04-13 01:57:46
@article{f09d471b-79a2-416c-a822-58405a87c123,
  abstract     = {<p>Climate change affects organisms worldwide with profound ecological and evolutionary consequences, often increasing population extinction risk. Climatic factors can increase the strength, variability, or direction of natural selection on phenotypic traits, potentially driving adaptive evolution. Phenotypic plasticity in relation to temperature can allow organisms to maintain fitness in response to increasing temperatures, thereby "buying time" for subsequent genetic adaptation and promoting evolutionary rescue. Although many studies have shown that organisms respond plastically to increasing temperatures, it is unclear if such thermal plasticity is adaptive. Moreover, we know little about how natural and sexual selection operate on thermal reaction norms, reflecting such plasticity. Here, we investigate how natural and sexual selection shape phenotypic plasticity in two congeneric and phenotypically similar sympatric insect species. We show that the thermal optima for longevity and mating success differ, suggesting temperature-dependent trade-offs between survival and reproduction in both sexes. Males in these species have similar thermal reaction norm slopes but have diverged in baseline body temperature (intercepts), being higher for the more northern species. Natural selection favored reduced thermal reaction norm slopes at high ambient temperatures, suggesting that the current level of thermal plasticity is maladaptive in the context of anthropogenic climate change and that selection now promotes thermal canalization and robustness. Our results show that ectothermic animals also at high latitudes can suffer from overheating and challenge the common view of phenotypic plasticity as being beneficial in harsh and novel environments.</p>},
  author       = {Svensson, Erik I. and Gomez-Llano, Miguel and Waller, John T.},
  issn         = {0027-8424},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {47},
  pages        = {29767--29774},
  publisher    = {National Acad Sciences},
  series       = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
  title        = {Selection on phenotypic plasticity favors thermal canalization},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2012454117},
  doi          = {10.1073/pnas.2012454117},
  volume       = {117},
  year         = {2020},
}