Dataset for: The genetics of phenotypic plasticity. XVI. Interactions among traits and the flow of information

2018-09-25T11:19:10Z (GMT) by Samuel M. Scheiner
Although the environment varies, adaptive trait plasticity is uncommon, which can be due to either costs or limitations. Currently there is little evidence for costs of plasticity; limitations are a more promising explanation, including information reliability. A possible cause for a decrease in information reliability is the channeling of environmental information through one trait that then affects the phenotype of a second trait, the information path. Using an individual-based simulation model, I explored the ways in which configurations of trait interactions and patterns of environmental variation in space and time affect the evolution of phenotypic plasticity. I found that genotypes and phenotypes evolved to shorten and simplify the information path from the environment to fitness. A shortened path was characterized by a decrease in the amount of plasticity for traits that had a less direct connection between the environment of development and fitness. A simplified path was characterized by a decrease in the amount of plasticity for traits that had multiple paths between the environment and their phenotype. These results suggest that an eighth proposition be added to the theory of the evolution of phenotypic plasticity: Trait plasticity will evolve to minimize the information path between the environment and fitness.