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How to test whether phenotypic plasticity is adaptive.
Miner, Benjamin1, 1 Univerisity of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
ABSTRACT- Biologists have become increasingly interested in the evolutionary and ecological role of phenotypic plasticity in natural systems, and many studies assert that plasticity is adaptive. However, the current theory to test whether phenotypic plasticity is adaptive can be confounded by a number of factors. For example, in the typical "performance test" commonly used, performance of phenotypes and costs of experiencing different environments are confounded yet not discussed. These problems with the current study of phenotypic plasticity make it difficult to know whether plasticity is indeed adaptive. Here, I discuss some of the problems with current approaches and develop a framework to directly test whether plasticity is adaptive. I also discuss some indirect tests that biologists are using to address this question.
Key words: adaptation, phenotypic plasticity