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Population-level consequences of polymorphism, plasticity and randomized phenotype switching: a review of predictions
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, School of Natural Sciences. (Evolutionary ecology)
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, School of Natural Sciences. (Evolutionary ecology)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9598-7618
2012 (English)In: Biological Reviews, ISSN 1464-7931, E-ISSN 1469-185X, Vol. 87, no 3, 756-767 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The consequences of among-individual phenotypic variation for the performance and ecological success of populations and species has attracted growing interest in recent years. Earlier reviews of this field typically address the consequences for population processes of one specific source of variation (plasticity or polymorphism), or consider one specific aspect of population performance, such as rate of speciation. Here we take a broader approach and study earlier reviews in order to summarize and compare predictions regarding several population-level consequences of phenotypic variation stemming from genetic polymorphism, developmental plasticity or randomized phenotype switching. Unravelling cause-dependent consequences of variation may increase our ability to understand the ecological dynamics of natural populations and communities, develop more informed management plans for protection of biodiversity, suggest possible routes to increased productivity and yield in natural and managed biological systems, and resolve inconsistencies in patterns and results seen in studies of different model systems. We find an overall agreement regarding the effects of higher levels of phenotypic variation generated by different sources, but also some differences between fine-grained and coarse-grained environments, modular and unitary organisms, mobile and sessile organisms, and between flexible and fixed traits. We propose ways to test the predictions and identify issues where current knowledge is limited and future lines of investigation promise to provide important novel insights.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 87, no 3, 756-767 p.
National Category
Ecology Evolutionary Biology
Research subject
Natural Science, Evolutionary Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-18042DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2012.00231.xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-18042DiVA: diva2:510394
Available from: 2012-03-16 Created: 2012-03-16 Last updated: 2015-09-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Population-level consequences of variation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Population-level consequences of variation
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Consequences of within population variation have recently attracted an increased interest in evolutionary ecology research. Theoretical models suggest important population-level consequences, but many of these predictions still remain to be tested. These issues are important for a deepened understanding of population performances and persistence, especially in a world characterized by rapid fragmentation of natural habitats and other environmental changes.

I review theoretical models of consequences from intra population genetic and phenotypic variation. I find that more variable populations are predicted to be characterized by broader resource use, reduced intraspecific competition, reduced vulnerability to environmental changes, more stable population dynamics, higher invasive potential, enhanced colonization and establishment success, larger distribution ranges, higher evolvability, higher productivity, faster population growth rate, decreased extinction risk, and higher speciation rate, compared with less variable populations.

To test some of these predictions I performed experiments and compared how different degree of colour polymorphism influences predation risk and establishment success in small groups. My comparisons of predation risk in mono- and polymorphic artificial prey populations showed that the risk of being eaten by birds does not only depend on the coloration of the individual prey item itself, but also on the coloration of the other members of the group. Two experiments on establishment success in small founder groups of

Tetrix subulata pygmy grasshoppers with different degree of colour morph diversity show that establishment success increases with higher degree of diversity, both under controlled conditions in outdoor enclosures and in the wild. These findings may be important for re-stocking of declining populations or re-introductions of locally extinct populations in conservation biology projects.

I report on remarkably rapid evolutionary shifts in colour morph frequencies in response to the changed environmental conditions in replicated natural populations of pygmy grasshoppers in fire ravaged areas. This finding

1

illustrates the high adaptive potential in a polymorphic species, and indicates the importance of preserved within-species diversity for evolutionary rescue.

Finally, I review if theoretical predictions are supported by other published empirical tests and find strong support for the predictions that more variable groups benefit from reduced vulnerability to environmental changes, reduced population fluctuations and extinction risk, larger distribution ranges, and higher colonization or establishment success.

In conclusion, my thesis illustrates how within-population variation influences ecological and evolutionary performances of populations both in the short and long term. As such, it emphasizes the need for conservation of biodiversity also within populations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kalmar: Linnaeus University Press, 2012. 53 p.
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations, 105
Keyword
colour polymorphism, diversity, establishment success, evolutionary changes, population-level consequences, predation risk, Tetrix subulata, variation
National Category
Evolutionary Biology
Research subject
Natural Science, Evolutionary Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-32522 (URN)978-91-86983-90-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-12-14, Fullriggaren, Linnéuniversitetet, Landgången 4, Kalmar, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2014-03-27 Created: 2014-02-27 Last updated: 2014-12-19Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttp://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-185X.2012.00231.x/abstract

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