Habitat construction and phenotypic plasticity are alternative responses to variable environments. We explored evolution along an environmental gradient of habitat construction alone and in combination with phenotypic plasticity using individual-based simulations that manipulated the fitness benefit of construction and whether construction maintained or eliminated that gradient. Construction was favored when its benefits were more likely to flow to the immediate offspring of the constructing individuals. Habitat construction and phenotypic plasticity traded off against each other or plasticity was selected against, depending on how the optimum environment varied and with the fitness value of construction. When selection favored differences in the amount of construction along the environmental gradient, genetic differentiation for habitat construction increased as the fitness value of construction increased. The degree to which each adaptive response was likely to evolve also depended on the precise ordering of life history events. Adaptive habitat construction does not always occur and may be selected against. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Scheiner SM, Barfield M, Holt RD. (2021). The evolution of habitat construction with and without phenotypic plasticity. Evolution; international journal of organic evolution