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Bet-hedging as a complex interaction among developmental instability, environmental heterogeneity, dispersal, and life-history strategy.

Abstract

One potential evolutionary response to environmental heterogeneity is the production of randomly variable offspring through developmental instability, a type of bet-hedging. I used an individual-based, genetically explicit model to examine the evolution of developmental instability. The model considered both temporal and spatial heterogeneity alone and in combination, the effect of migration pattern (stepping stone vs. island), and life-history strategy. I confirmed that temporal heterogeneity alone requires a threshold amount of variation to select for a substantial amount of developmental instability. For spatial heterogeneity only, the response to selection on developmental instability depended on the life-history strategy and the form and pattern of dispersal with the greatest response for island migration when selection occurred before dispersal. Both spatial and temporal variation alone select for similar amounts of instability, but in combination resulted in substantially more instability than either alone. Local adaptation traded off against bet-hedging, but not in a simple linear fashion. I found higher-order interactions between life-history patterns, dispersal rates, dispersal patterns, and environmental heterogeneity that are not explainable by simple intuition. We need additional modeling efforts to understand these interactions and empirical tests that explicitly account for all of these factors.

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