Assessing the role of phenotypic plasticity in the adaptive radiation of threespine stickleback fish

CEES Extra seminar by Matthew A. Wund, The College of New Jersey, USA


Phenotypic plasticity, the responsiveness of phenotypes to environmental variation, is a fundamental property of organisms. In many cases, individuals exhibit adaptive phenotypic plasticity, whereby a change in environmental conditions is met with adaptive alterations of morphology, behavior and/or physiology. These beneficial responses are clearly the result of adaptive evolution. However, a more controversial idea is that in addition to being the result of adaptive evolution, the presence of phenotypic plasticity may in turn influence the rate and trajectory of subsequent evolutionary change. In this seminar, I discuss some of the evolutionary processes that might be impacted by phenotypic plasticity, and present evidence supporting ideas from research on threespine stickleback fish. Modern marine and anadromous stickleback represent a "living ancestor" that can be used to directly evaluate hypotheses about how ancestral plasticity may have influenced adaptation when oceanic stickleback colonized diverse freshwater habitats.

Matthew A. Wund
Associate Professor of Biology
The College of New Jersey
Ewing, NJ 08628

Published Oct. 2, 2015 9:29 AM - Last modified Oct. 20, 2015 10:50 AM