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Phenotypic plasticity in two marine snails: constraints superseding life-history

  • Johan Hollander
  • Michael Collyer
  • Dean Adams
  • Kerstin Johannesson
Publishing year: 2006
Language: English
Pages: 1861-1872
Publication/Series: Journal of evolutionary biology
Volume: 19
Issue: 6
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Abstract english

In organisms encountering predictable environments, fixed development is

expected, whereas in organisms that cannot predict their future environment,

phenotypic plasticity would be optimal to increase local adaptation. To test this prediction we experimentally compared phenotypic plasticity in two rockyshore snail species; Littorina saxatilis releasing miniature snails on the shore, and Littorina littorea releasing drifting larvae settling on various shores, expecting L. littorea to show more phenotypic plasticity than L. saxatilis. We compared magnitude and direction of vectors of phenotypic difference in juvenile shell traits after 3 months exposure to different stimuli simulating sheltered and crab-rich shores, or wave-exposed and crab-free shores. Both species showed similar direction and magnitude of vectors of phenotypic difference with minor differences only between ecotypes of the nondispersing species, indicating that plasticity is an evolving trait in L. saxatilis. The lack of a strong plastic response in L. littorea might be explained by limits rather than

costs to plasticity.


  • Ecology
  • dispersal strategy
  • grain size
  • Littorina littorea
  • Littorina saxatilis
  • local adaptation
  • phenotypic plasticity
  • rocky shore.


  • ISSN: 1420-9101
Johan Hollander
E-mail: johan [dot] hollander [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


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