The evolution of plasticity at geographic range edges

Takuji Usui* (Corresponding Author), David Lerner* (Corresponding Author), Isaac Eckert, Amy L. Angert, Colin J. Garroway, Anna Hargreaves, Lesley T. Lancaster, Jean-Philippe Lessard, Federico Riva, Chloé Schmidt, Karin van der Burg, Katie E. Marshall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phenotypic plasticity enables rapid responses to environmental change, and could facilitate range shifts in response to climate change. What drives the evolution of plasticity at range edges, and the capacity of range-edge individuals to be plastic, remain unclear. Here, we propose that accurately predicting when plasticity itself evolves or mediates adaptive evolution at expanding range edges requires integrating knowledge on the demography and evolution of edge populations. Our synthesis shows that: (i) the demography of edge populations can amplify or attenuate responses to selection for plasticity through diverse pathways, and (ii) demographic effects on plasticity are modified by the stability of range edges. Our spatially explicit synthesis for plasticity has the potential to improve predictions for range shifts with climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Ecology & Evolution
Early online date12 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 May 2023


  • acclimation
  • distribution
  • geography
  • macroecology
  • reaction norm
  • spatial patterns


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