Predicting relationships between trait mean and plasticity in flexible organisms (Visiting Scholar)
Conditions are unequivocally heterogenous in nature and all organisms have evolved some capacity to deal with this via homeostasis and/or phenotypic plasticity. While many traits respond to environmental heterogeneity, responsiveness is not ubiquitous and so there is interest in understanding how it evolves and also influences adaptive evolution. There is variable evidence of a positive correlation between mean trait values and trait plasticity, and understanding why this is so is relevant because such correlations complicate assessments of the costs of plasticity, identifying the target of selection, and also may reveal how plasticity influences adaptive evolution. I will meta-analyze published studies of phenotypic plasticity to test hypotheses about the causes of the correlations between trait mean and plasticity.