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Organism and EnvironmentEcological Development, Niche Construction, and Adaptation$
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Sonia E. Sultan

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587070

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587070.001.0001

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Ecological development as niche construction

Ecological development as niche construction

How plasticity shapes the environment an organism experiences

Chapter:
(p.71) Chapter 4 Ecological development as niche construction
Source:
Organism and Environment
Author(s):

Sonia E. Sultan

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587070.003.0004

Individual plasticity can be seen as a type of niche construction, because it alters how the organism experiences a given set of external conditions. This chapter examines how, by means of plastic trait adjustments, individual organisms modify and enhance the environments that they experience. It begins with the simplest case, spatial and temporal relocation (habitat choice). The next section discusses how animals and plants modify the temperature conditions they experience through positional, behavioral, metabolic, and morphological plasticity. An extensive section then examines plastic responses that mediate experienced resource environments, including microbial responses to transient nutrient plumes, targeted proliferation of plant root systems, whole-plant, leaf, chloroplast, and ultrastructural responses that maximize light availability, developmental plasticity of plants and animals to maintain oxygen supply, and plasticity in structural traits related to food acquisition and processing. The final section discusses plastic responses by parent animals and plants that enhance the environments experienced by their offspring.

Keywords:   developmental plasticity, phenotypic plasticity, habitat choice, thermoregulation, root plasticity, shade avoidance, flood tolerance, gill remodeling, parental care, transgenerational plasticity

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