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Simulation code for: The role of phenotypic plasticity in the establishment of range margins

Cite this dataset

Eriksson, Martin; Rafajlovic, Marina (2022). Simulation code for: The role of phenotypic plasticity in the establishment of range margins [Dataset]. Dryad.


It has been argued that adaptive phenotypic plasticity may facilitate range expansions over spatially and temporally variable environments. However, plasticity may induce fitness costs. This may hinder the evolution of plasticity. Earlier modelling studies examined the role of plasticity during range expansions of populations with fixed genetic variance. However, genetic variance evolves in natural populations. This may critically alter model outcomes. We ask: How does the capacity for plasticity in populations with evolving genetic variance alter range margins that populations without the capacity for plas- ticity are expected to attain? We answered this question using computer simulations and analytical approximations. We found a critical plasticity cost above which the capacity for plasticity has no impact on the expected range of the population. Below the critical cost, by contrast, plasticity facilitates range expansion, extending the range in comparison to that expected for populations without plasticity. We further found that populations may evolve plasticity to buffer temporal environmental fluctuations, but only when the plasticity cost is below the critical cost. Thus, the cost of plasticity is a key factor involved in range expansions of populations with the potential to express plastic response in the adaptive trait.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Species ranges in the face of changing environments (Part I)’.


Custom-made Matlab simulation.


Hasselblad Foundation

Vetenskapsrådet, Award: 2018-05973

Svenska Forskningsrådet Formas, Award: 2019-00882