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The adaptive value of phenotypic plasticity between two ecotypes of a marine gastropod

Author:
  • Johan Hollander
  • Roger Butlin
Publishing year: 2010
Language: English
Publication/Series: BMC Evolutionary Biology
Volume: 10
Issue: 333
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: BioMed Central

Abstract english

Background

Few surveys have concentrated on studying the adaptive value of phenotypic plasticity within genetically-distinct conspecific ecotypes. Here, we conduct a test to assess the adaptive value that partial phenotypic plasticity may have for survival in the marine gastropod Littorina saxatilis. This species has evolved canalized ecotypes but, nevertheless, the ecotypes show some phenotypic plasticity for the traits under divergent selection between wave-exposed and high-predation habitats.



Results

We exposed juveniles of each ecotype to several environmental treatments under laboratory conditions in order to produce shape variation associated with plasticity. The two ecotypes from different treatments were then transplanted to the wave-exposed habitat and the survival rate was monitored. Ecotype explained the largest distinction in survival rate while treatment caused variation in survival rate within the ecotype released into its parental habitat which was correlated with plastic changes in shell shape. Snails that had experienced a treatment mimicking the environment of the transplantation location survived with the highest rate, while individuals from the contrary experimental treatment had lower survivorship.



Conclusions

We conclude that the partial plastic response shown in Littorina saxatilis has a significant impact on fitness, although this remains small compared to the overall adaptive difference between ecotypes.

Keywords

  • Ecology

Other

Published
  • ISSN: 1471-2148
Johan Hollander
E-mail: johan [dot] hollander [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Researcher

Division aquatic ecology

+46 46 222 34 73

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Researcher

Aquatic Ecology

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