Meeting Abstract

S6-1.7  Sunday, Jan. 6  Constraints and the importance of adaptive plasticity to climate change SHELDON, B.C.; University of Oxford ben.sheldon@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Phenotypic plasticity is regarded as a key mechanism by which populations adapt to changing climates, but we know little about the importance of plasticity for population persistence, or what limits the scope of adaptive plasticity. In this talk I will present two different strands of work, derived from long-term studies of a temperate songbird (the great tit), which assess the limits on, and importance of, adaptive plasticity in response to phenology of the environment. First, I will argue that the evolution of population-level responses to the environment are constrained by (i) spatial variation, and (ii) temporal dissociation of breeding decisions from the phenological events that cause selection. These effects will act in different ways, with the common effect of constraining the evolution of plasticity. Second, I will present an analysis of a mechanistic model developed by Chevin et al. that predicts the critical rate of temperature change above which populations are inviable. Parameterisation of this model suggests that the importance of phenotypic plasticity for adaptation to climate change is strongly life-history dependent.