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The coevolution of lifespan and reversible plasticity


Ratikainen, Irja I; Kokko, Hanna (2019). The coevolution of lifespan and reversible plasticity. Nature Communications, 10(1):538.

Abstract

Reversible phenotypic plasticity, the ability to change one’s phenotype repeatedly throughout life, can be selected for in environments that do not stay constant throughout an individual’s lifetime. It might also mitigate senescence, as the mismatch between the environment and a non-plastic individual’s traits is likely to increase as time passes. To understand why reversible plasticity may covary with lifespan, studies tend to assume unidirectional causality: plasticity evolves under suitable rates of environmental variation with respect to life history. Here we show that if lifespan also evolves in response to plasticity, then long life is not merely a context that sets the stage for lifelong plasticity. Instead, the causality is bidirectional because plasticity itself can select for longevity. Highly autocorrelated environmental fluctuations predict low investment in reversible plasticity and a phenotype that is poorly matched to the environment at older ages. Such environments select for high reproductive effort and short lifespans.

Abstract

Reversible phenotypic plasticity, the ability to change one’s phenotype repeatedly throughout life, can be selected for in environments that do not stay constant throughout an individual’s lifetime. It might also mitigate senescence, as the mismatch between the environment and a non-plastic individual’s traits is likely to increase as time passes. To understand why reversible plasticity may covary with lifespan, studies tend to assume unidirectional causality: plasticity evolves under suitable rates of environmental variation with respect to life history. Here we show that if lifespan also evolves in response to plasticity, then long life is not merely a context that sets the stage for lifelong plasticity. Instead, the causality is bidirectional because plasticity itself can select for longevity. Highly autocorrelated environmental fluctuations predict low investment in reversible plasticity and a phenotype that is poorly matched to the environment at older ages. Such environments select for high reproductive effort and short lifespans.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Physics and Astronomy, General Chemistry
Language:English
Date:1 December 2019
Deposited On:04 Dec 2019 14:17
Last Modified:04 Dec 2019 14:18
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-08502-9

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