Meeting Abstract

S8-1.3  Friday, Jan. 6  Exploration in Development: implications for the costs, consequences and evolution of phenotypic plasticity SNELL-ROOD, Emilie; University of Minnesota

Exploration, or “phenotype sampling,” is a common theme in development, from the growth of muscles and the circulatory system to learning and acquired immunity. This talk argues that applying a perspective focused on exploratory mechanisms is necessary for understanding the evolution of phenotypic plasticity and complex traits more generally. Greater investment in exploration, in particular with the possibility of environmental feedback, increases the probability that an individual will develop a phenotype best matched to the local environment. However, such exploration is costly in terms of time, energy and investment in the machinery necessary to process information. This suggests that evolutionary increases in phenotypic plasticity will require major life history changes such as increased development time and investment in individual offspring. This talk discusses implications of this focus on exploration in development, from predicting adaptive responses to novel environments to understanding other mechanisms of plasticity.