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Data from: Ontogenetic changes in genetic variances of age-dependent plasticity along a latitudinal gradient


Nilsson-Örtman, Viktor; Rogell, Bjorn; Stoks, Robby; Johansson, Frank (2014), Data from: Ontogenetic changes in genetic variances of age-dependent plasticity along a latitudinal gradient, Dryad, Dataset,


The expression of phenotypic plasticity may differ among life stages of the same organism. Age-dependent plasticity can be important for adaptation to heterogeneous environments, but this has only recently been recognized. Whether age-dependent plasticity is a common outcome of local adaptation and whether populations harbor genetic variation in this respect remains largely unknown. To answer these questions, we estimated levels of additive genetic variation in age-dependent plasticity in six species of damselflies sampled from 18 populations along a latitudinal gradient spanning 3600 km. We reared full sib larvae at three temperatures and estimated genetic variances in the height and slope of thermal reaction norms of body size at three points in time during ontogeny using random regression. Our data show that most populations harbor genetic variation in growth rate (reaction norm height) in all ontogenetic stages, but only some populations and ontogenetic stages were found to harbor genetic variation in thermal plasticity (reaction norm slope). Genetic variances in reaction norm height differed among species, while genetic variances in reaction norm slope differed among populations. The slope of the ontogenetic trend in genetic variances of both reaction norm height and slope increased with latitude. We propose that differences in genetic variances reflect temporal and spatial variation in the strength and direction of natural selection on growth trajectories and age-dependent plasticity. Selection on age-dependent plasticity may depend on the interaction between temperature seasonality and time constraints associated with variation in life history traits such as generation length.

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