Phenotypic Plasticity

Kailen A. Mooney and Anurag A. Agrawal

in Specialization, Speciation, and Radiation

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780520251328
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933828 | DOI:
Phenotypic Plasticity

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Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of an organism, a single genotype, to exhibit different phenotypes in different environments. It is nearly ubiquitous in nature and occurs in various animal and plant phenotypes, including behavior, physiology, and morphology. Phenotypic plasticity may be observed as both adaptive and non-adaptive responses to the biotic or abiotic environment. It plays an important role in the interactions between plants and herbivorous insects. In particular, plants and herbivores have traits that are expressed in response to their interactions with each other, and the induction of these traits may subsequently alter the dynamics of the plant–herbivore interaction. This chapter takes both an evolutionary and ecological approach to understanding the causes and consequences of phenotypic plasticity in plant–herbivore interactions. In particular, there has been a growing interest in understanding plasticity in two contexts: first, the various types of plasticity and their adaptive value; and second, the ecological consequences of plastic phenotypes in food webs.

Keywords: phenotypic plasticity; phenotypes; plants; herbivores; herbivorous insects; plant–herbivore interactions; food webs; adaptive value

Chapter.  12721 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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