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An ontogenetic perspective on individual differences
Senner, N.R.; Conklin, J.R.; Piersma, T. (2015). An ontogenetic perspective on individual differences. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 282: 20151050. dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2015.1050
In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. The Royal Society: London. ISSN 0962-8452, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Author keywords
    carry-over effects; life-history trade-offs; reversible state effects; developmental effects; senescence; phenotypic plasticity

Authors  Top 
  • Senner, N.R.
  • Conklin, J.R.
  • Piersma, T., more

Abstract
    Phenotypic differences among individuals can arise during any stage of life. Although several distinct processes underlying individual differences have been defined and studied (e.g. parental effects, senescence), we lack an explicit, unified perspective for understanding how these processes contributeseparately and synergistically to observed variation in functional traits. We propose a conceptual framework based on a developmental view of lifehistory variation, linking each ontogenetic stage with the types of individual differences originating during that period. In our view, the salient differences among these types are encapsulated by three key criteria: timing of onset, when fitness consequences are realized, and potential for reversibility. To fill a critical gap in this framework, we formulate a new term to refer toindividual differences generated during adulthood—reversible state effects. We define these as ‘reversible changes in a functional trait resulting from life-history trade-offs during adulthood that affect fitness’, highlighting how the adult phenotype can be repeatedly altered in response to environmentalvariation. Defining individual differences in terms of trade-offs allows explicit predictions regarding when and where fitness consequences should be expected. Moreover, viewing individual differences in a developmental context highlights how different processes can work in concert to shape phenotype and fitness, and lays a foundation for research linking individual differences to ecological and evolutionary theory.

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