Unpredictability during development of the optimum phenotype under future selection leads to a compromise reaction norm with a slope that is shallower than the slope of the optimum reaction norm. Unpredictability of selection can lead to an evolved curved reaction norm when genetic variation for curvature is available even if the optimum reaction norm is linear. This requires asymmetry in the frequency distribution of the habitats of selection; at small population size, stochasticity in the number of individuals per selection habitat is sufficient to generate such asymmetry.
Unpredictability of selection in structured populations leads to local genetic differentiation of reaction norms. The mean habitat of a subpopulation is defined as the subpopulation's focal habitat. The evolved mean reaction norm of each subpopulation is anchored at the optimum genotypic value in its focal habitat. Linear reaction norms are parallel if the conditional distribution of adults around the focal habitats is the same for each subpopulation.
Adult migration and absence of zygote dispersal represents the ultimate structured population, each habitat playing the role of focal habitat. Absence of zygote dispersal requires that the flow of individuals through the habitats is used instead of the habitats’ frequencies in the prediction of the evolved reaction norm. Adult migration in absence of zygote dispersal leads to an evolved pattern of locally differentiated reaction norms with optimum genotypic value anchored in the focal habitat and, for linear reaction norms, parallel slopes.