Nonlinear effects of temperature on body form and developmental canalization in the threespine stickleback

Lisa.Shama [ at ]


Theoretical models predict that nonlinear environmental effects on the phenotype also affect developmental canalization, which in turn can influence the tempo and course of organismal evolution. Here, we used an oceanic population of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) to investigate temperature-induced phenotypic plasticity of body size and shape using a paternal half-sibling, split-clutch experimental design and rearing offspring under three different temperature regimes (13, 17 and 21 °C). Body size and shape of 466 stickleback individuals were assessed by a set of 53 landmarks and analysed using geometric morphometric methods. At approximately 100 days, individuals differed significantly in both size and shape across the temperature groups. However, the temperature-induced differences between 13 and 17 °C (mainly comprising relative head and eye size) deviated considerably from those between 17 and 21 °C (involving the relative size of the ectocoracoid, the operculum and the ventral process of the pelvic girdle). Body size was largest at 17 °C. For both size and shape, phenotypic variance was significantly smaller at 17 °C than at 13 and 21 °C, indicating that development is most stable at the intermediate temperature matching the conditions encountered in the wild. Higher additive genetic variance at 13 and 21 °C indicates that the plastic response to temperature had a heritable basis. Understanding nonlinear effects of temperature on development and the underlying genetics are important for modelling evolution and for predicting outcomes of global warming, which can lead not only to shifts in average morphology but also to destabilization of development.

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DOI 10.1111/jeb.12311

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Ramler, D. , Mitteroecker, P. , Shama, L. N. , WEGNER, K. M. and Ahnelt, H. (2014): Nonlinear effects of temperature on body form and developmental canalization in the threespine stickleback , Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 27 (3), pp. 497-507 . doi: 10.1111/jeb.12311

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