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

6 Citations (Scopus)
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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
Pages (from-to)831-842
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Ecology & Evolution
Issue number9
Early online date8 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

This article is the product of a working group funded by a grant from the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Sciences to J-P.L. and K.E.M. J-P.L. is funded by a Concordia University Research Chair and an NSERC Discovery Grant (RGPIN-2015-06081). D.L. is supported by the Sustainability and Energy Research Initiative PhD grant. K.E.M. is supported by an NSERC Discovery Grant (RGPIN-2019-04239). C.J.G., A.L.A., and C.S. are funded by NSERC Discovery Grants. T.U. is supported by the UBC International Doctoral Fellowship.


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


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