Phenotypic Plasticity & Evolution : Causes, Consequences, Controversies book cover
1st Edition

Phenotypic Plasticity & Evolution
Causes, Consequences, Controversies

Edited By

David W. Pfennig




ISBN 9780367357047
Published June 1, 2021 by CRC Press
436 Pages 34 Color & 29 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Phenotypic plasticity – the ability of an individual organism to alter its features in direct response to a change in its environment – is ubiquitous. Understanding how and why this phenomenon exists is crucial because it unites all levels of biological inquiry. This book brings together researchers who approach plasticity from diverse perspectives to explore new ideas and recent findings about the causes and consequences of plasticity. Contributors also discuss such controversial topics as how plasticity shapes ecological and evolutionary processes; whether specific plastic responses can be passed to offspring; and whether plasticity has left an important imprint on the history of life. Importantly, each chapter highlights key questions for future research. Drawing on numerous studies of plasticity in natural populations of plants and animals, this book aims to foster greater appreciation for this important, but frequently misunderstood phenomenon.

Key Features

  • Written in an accessible style with numerous illustrations, including many in color
  • Reviews the history of the study of plasticity, including Darwin’s views
  • Most chapters conclude with recommendations for future research

Table of Contents

Foreword: A Perspective on Plasticity

Mary Jane West-Eberhard

Preface and Acknowledgements

David W. Pfennig

 

Section I Plasticity & Evolution: Concepts & Questions

Phenotypic Plasticity as an Intrinsic Property of Organisms

Sonia E. Sultan

"There is Hardly Any Question in Biology of More Importance"––Charles Darwin and the Nature of Variation

James T. Costa

Key Questions about Phenotypic Plasticity

David W. Pfennig

Section II Causes of Plasticity: From Genes to Ecology

Genetic Variation in Phenotypic Plasticity

Ilan Goldstein & Ian M. Ehrenreich

Physiological Mechanisms and the Evolution of Plasticity

Cristina C. Ledon-Rettig & Erik J. Ragsdale

Ecology and the Evolution of Plasticity

Emilie Snell-Rood & Sean Ehlman

The Loss of Phenotypic Plasticity via Natural Selection: Genetic Assimilation

Samuel M. Scheiner & Nicholas A. Levis

Section III Consequences of Plasticity: Adaptation, Origination, Diversification

Buying Time: Plasticity and Population Persistence

Sarah E. Diamond & Ryan A. Martin

Innovation and Diversification via Plasticity-led Evolution

Nicholas A. Levis & David W. Pfennig

Plasticity and Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality

Dinah R. Davison & Richard E. Michod

Phenotypic Plasticity in the Fossil Record

Adrian M. Lister

Section IV Plasticity & Evolution: Controversies & Consensus

The Special Case of Behavioral Plasticity?

Kathryn Chenard & Renee A. Duckworth

Plasticity Across Generations

Russell Bonduriansky

How Does Phenotypic Plasticity Fit into Evolutionary Theory?

Douglas J. Futuyma

Plasticity and Evolutionary Theory: Where We Are and Where We Should be Going

Carl D. Schlichting

List of Contributors

Index

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Editor(s)

Biography

David W. Pfennig is a professor of biology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer. He is broadly interested in evolutionary biology, ecology, behavior, and developmental biology and is author (with Karin Pfennig) of Evolution’s Wedge: Competition and the Origins of Diversity. His work has been featured on The National Geographic Channel, on the BBC/ PBS’s Nature series, and in The New York Times, Newsweek, National Geographic, Scientific American, New Scientist, and Discover, among other publications.

Reviews

"Anyone interested in the nature of living organisms and their adaptive evolution will be stimulated by reading this book."
–– Mary Jane West-Eberhard (Foreword)

 

"This authoritative compilation brings together top thinkers on phenotypic plasticity and synthesizes the many ways that it profoundly influences evolution. Plasticity has been too often dismissed as mere 'environmental noise,' but these chapters bring rich and diverse perspectives to one volume and explain how plasticity arises and how understanding plasticity is fundamental to understanding evolutionary patterns and processes."
–– Mohamed Noor, Duke University

 

"This book is ‘must-read’ for anyone interested in phenotypic plasticity. The editor and authors have done an excellent job as the treatment is bang up to date with a fully comprehensive coverage. In this era of major challenges from climate change, an understanding of the evolution and ecology of phenotypic plasticity has become ever more pressing and highly relevant to whether species will be able to cope with its consequences. The most valuable and attractive features of the book include an exceptionally thorough assessment of controversial ideas involving the genetics and evolution of plasticity and sections in each chapter entitled ‘suggestions for future research’."
–– Paul Brakefield FRS, University of Cambridge, UK

 

"This is a much needed book. This volume makes clear that nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of selectable variation, and that this variation arises through the alliances woven between genomic and environmental agents during development. This should be mandatory reading for anyone concerned with mechanisms of evolution."

–– Scott F. Gilbert, Swarthmore College

"Bringing together leading theoretical and empirical scientists, this volume provides a comprehensive treatment of the mechanisms underlying phenotypic plasticity and how this knowledge illuminates our understanding of evolution. Among other triumphs, it fulfills the promise of genomics as an engine of discovery for mechanistic biology, evolutionary biology, and their integration. A most worthy successor to West-Eberhard’s Developmental Plasticity and Evolution."
 
–– Gene E. Robinson, Department of Entomology and Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"The nature of phenotypic plasticity will undoubtedly have profound implications for both adaptation and conservation in the face of climate change and our ability to feed the human population. Pfennig and colleagues have produced a high-quality book that will spark many intriguing discussions for those who have the pleasure of reading it." 

–– L. L. Surber & R. C. Fuller – In Evolution.

"Phenotypic Plasticity and Evolution will be useful reading for students and researchers, being novel enough to provide valuable insights and ideas for newcomers to the topics and experts as well. In the end, more data and results on plasticity in evolution are needed, and the book will motivate the search for such results."

–– C. F. de Carvalho & P. Nosil – In Current Biology, 32.