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Keywords:

  • Evolution of plasticity;
  • indirect genetic effects;
  • phenotypic coevolution;
  • quantitative genetic models;
  • social behavior

In many traits involved in social interactions, such as courtship and aggression, the phenotype is an outcome of interactions between individuals. Such traits whose expression in an individual is partly determined by the phenotype of its social partner are called “interacting phenotypes.” Quantitative genetic models suggested that interacting phenotypes can evolve much faster than nonsocial traits. Current models, however, consider the interaction between phenotypes of social partners as a fixed phenotypic response rule, represented by an interaction coefficient (ψ). Here, we extend existing theoretical models and incorporate the interaction coefficient as a trait that can evolve. We find that the evolution of the interaction coefficient can change qualitatively the predictions about the rate and direction of evolution of interacting phenotypes. We argue that it is crucial to determine whether and how the phenotypic response of an individual to its social partner can evolve to make accurate predictions about the evolution of traits involved in social interactions.