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Keywords:

  • Aeshna;
  • amphibian;
  • Anura;
  • cost of plasticity;
  • phenotypic plasticity;
  • predation;
  • prey;
  • Rana temporaria;
  • selection

Abstract

Costs of phenotypic plasticity are important for the evolution of plasticity because they prevent organisms from shaping themselves at will to match heterogeneous environments. These costs occur when plastic genotypes have relatively low fitness regardless of the trait value expressed. We report two experiments in which we measured selection on predator-induced plasticity in the behaviour and external morphology of frog tadpoles (Rana temporaria). We assessed costs under stressful and benign conditions, measured fitness as larval growth rate or competitive ability and focused analysis on aggregate measures of whole-organism plasticity. There was little convincing evidence for a cost of phenotypic plasticity in our experiments, and costs of canalization were nearly as frequent as costs of plasticity. Neither the magnitude of the cost nor the variation around the estimate (detectability) was sensitive to environmental stress.