Phenotypic plasticity can allow organisms to cope with environmental changes. Although reaction norms are commonly used to quantify plasticity along gradients of environmental conditions, they often miss the temporal dynamics of phenotypic change, especially the speed at which it occurs. Here, we argue that studying the rate of phenotypic plasticity is a crucial step to quantify and understand its adaptiveness. Iteratively measuring plastic traits allows us to describe the actual dynamics of phenotypic changes and avoid quantifying reaction norms at times that do not truly reflect the organism’s capacity for plasticity. Integrating the temporal component in how we describe, quantify, and conceptualise phenotypic plasticity can change our understanding of its diversity, evolution, and consequences.

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Trends in Ecology & Evolution
Staff publications

Dupont, Léonard, Thierry, Mélanie, Zinger, L., Legrand, Delphine, & Jacob, Staffan. (2023). Beyond reaction norms: the temporal dynamics of phenotypic plasticity. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 39(1), 41–51. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2023.08.014

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