Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Multiple modes of selection can influence the role of phenotypic plasticity in species' invasions: evidence from a manipulative field experiment.

Abstract

In exploring the roles of phenotypic plasticity in the establishment and early evolution of invading species, little empirical attention has been given to the importance of correlational selection acting upon suites of functionally related plastic traits in nature. We illustrate how this lack of attention has limited our ability to evaluate plasticity's role during invasion and also, the costs and benefits of plasticity. We addressed these issues by transplanting clones of European-derived Plantago lanceolata L. genotypes into two temporally variable habitats in the species' introduced range in North America. Phenotypic selection analyses were performed for each habitat to estimate linear, quadratic, and correlational selection on phenotypic trait values and plasticities in the reproductive traits: flowering onset and spike and scape lengths. Also, we measured pairwise genetic correlations for our "colonists." Results showed that (a) correlational selection acted on trait plasticity after transplantation, (b) selection favored certain combinations of genetically correlated and uncorrelated trait values and plasticities, and (c) using signed, instead of absolute, values of plasticity in analyses facilitated the detection of correlational selection on trait value-plasticity combinations and their adaptive value. Based on our results, we urge future studies on species invasions to (a) measure correlational selection and (b) retain signed values of plasticity in order to better discriminate between adaptive and maladaptive plasticity.