Adaptive phenotypic plasticity: consensus and controversy

Trends Ecol Evol. 1995 May;10(5):212-7. doi: 10.1016/s0169-5347(00)89061-8.


Phenotypic plasticity is an environmentally based change in the phenotype. Understanding the evolution of adaptive phenotypic plasticity has been hampered by dissenting opinions on the merits of different methods of description, on the underlying genetic mechanisms, and on the way that plasticity is affected by natural selection in a heterogeneous environment. During much of this debate, the authors of this article have held opposing views. Here, we attempt to lay out current issues and summarize the areas of consensus and controversy surrounding the evolution of plasticity and the reaction norm (the set of phenotypes produced by a genotype over a range of environments).