Plasticity in Evolution: 2

    ZERG just finished a painful stint trying to get through
    West-Eberhard's Developmental Plasticity and Evolution book. We did
    remarkably well for about 8-10 weeks, then decided to move on. Jim's
    observation that in the West-Everhard tome on evolution, there wasn't
    a single equation, is both insightful and troubling. Her failure to
    understand much of the theory may account for the difficulty she has
    in expressing her opinion that plasticity may account for spurts of
    rapid evolution change. The closest encounter we had with
    understanding her message was in the chapter on Speciation. More
    development of theory on how plastic phenotypes can contribute to
    evolutionary novelties, often with greater speed than most would
    imagine, needs to be undertaken, though Lande seems to provide
    sufficient theory for our purposes.

    Thank you all for your contributuions.

    Date: Sat, 05 Dec 2009 16:12:49 -0600
    From: Jim Crow <jfcrow@wisc.edu>
    Subject: Lande paper
    To: Mara McDonald <mamcdona@wisc.edu>

    Dear Mara,

    As I told you Russell Lande (a former Wisconsin postdoc, by
    the way) has provided what to me is a plausible model for the value
    of plasticity in evolution. As you know from my earlier remarks I
    have been bothered by when plasticity can have a selective value, and
    it wasn't clear to me how Mary Jo explained it. Russ's model is this:

    A population has been in a relatively stable environment for
    some time and because of stabilizing selection the variance is kept
    relatively small. Then there is a sudden change to a new
    environment, outside the previous range of the environment. The
    population mean fitness of course falls. Now plasticity is favored
    by enhancing the probability of change in the direction of adapting
    to the new environment. How rapidly this change occurs depends,
    among other things, on the heritability of plasticity. Once the mean
    is optimized to the new environment, the variance will decrease to
    something like its original value, but with a new mean appropriate to
    the new environment.

    The paper itself it heavily mathematical, but the argument is
    clear without the math. I would be glad to email a copy to anyone
    who would like to read it.

    Sincerely, Jim

    >Original-recipient: rfc822;mamcdona@wisc.edu
    >Date: Mon, 07 Dec 2009 13:09:45 -0600
    >From: Andrew Wetzel <wetzel2@wisc.edu>
    >Subject: Re: Fwd: Lande paper
    >To: Mara McDonald <mamcdona@wisc.edu>
    >Organization: Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
    >The December Atlantic has an article on plasticity this month, which
    >you may enjoy (or cringe at?) reading:
    >Andrew Wetzel
    >Department Administrator
    >Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
    >Director's Office, Room 122 Science Hall
    >550 N. Park Street, Madison, WI 53706
    >Phone: 608-265-5296 Fax: 608-262-0014
    >Email: <mailto:wetzel2@wisc.edu>wetzel2@wisc.edu
    Original-recipient: rfc822;mamcdona@wisc.edu
    Date: Sun, 06 Dec 2009 14:41:13 -0600
    From: WJ Saucier MD <givsb4@athenet.net>
    Subject: Cooperative Hunting in Ravens
    To: Mara McDonald <mamcdona@wisc.edu>
    Thread-topic: Cooperative Hunting in Ravens
    Thread-index: Acp2tHMOCkBsHPU8qkqmHsS6C5JWCw==

    Hi Mara,

    Heard this fascinating story on the CBC and thought you would enjoy it. I
    could not find an easy way to send a link, but did find one at BBC.

    Some Brown-necked ravens (Corvus rufficolis) have learned to hunt rather
    large lizards in a "pack?" with quite defined roles such as a military unit
    might use. The interview on the CBC program "As It Happens",12/03/09, was
    quite good but you would have to listen to a long segment to hear it. I will
    send the link anyway.

    Best wishes,