Organizers: Jennifer Donelson1, Suzanne Mills2, Celia Schunter3, Rebecca Fox4, Rui Oliveira5, Timothy Ravasi3, Juan Diego Gaitan-Espitia6, Mark McCormick7, William Gladstone2 & Rui Rosa8

Affiliations: 1/ ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Australia; 2/ CRIOBE – USR 3278 CNRS EPHE UPVD, PSL, LabEX Corail, Moorea, French Polynesia ; 3/ KAUST Environmental Epigenetic Program (KEEP), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology; 4/ School of Life Sciences, University of Technology Sydney, Australia; 5/ ISPA – Instituto Universitário and Gulbenkian Institute of Science, Portugal; 6/ Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship; 7/ James Cook University, Australia; 8/ University of Lisbon, Portugal


Lead contact: Jennifer Donelson, Suzanne Mills & Celia Schunter

Description: Adaptation by natural selection is ubiquitous in biological systems. However, when the rate of genetic evolutionary change is outpaced by changes in the environment the need for adaptive change without genetic mutation emerges. In this scenario, the evolution of phenotypic plasticity, or the ability to express different phenotypes under varying environmental conditions, is favored. Understanding the processes and mechanisms driving plasticity are of increasing importance in the light of human impacts and rapidly changing environmental conditions. In this symposium we will address the following questions: 1) What potential do teleosts have to exhibit plasticity in response to altered habitats or to changes in abiotic environmental conditions? To answer this we need to address why we observe differences in phenotypic plasticity between species, populations or due to the environmental change, and why certain molecular, physiological and behavioural traits may be more plastic than others. 2) What are the key factors that translate environmental cues into plastic responses? Numerous levels within the individual will play a part in how, when and if phenotypic plasticity occurs. This includes the role of hormones in translating environmental cues into rapid phenotypic responses, or how alterations in gene expression may or may not lead to whole organism level change. 3) What are the costs associated with phenotypic plasticity and how may they impact species/communities exposed to environmental change? There is most likely a cost to plasticity, as rapid behavioral and physiological responses to environmental change help immediate survival, but often trade-off with longer lasting ecosystem/community/population persistence. Therefore, we will also address flow on impacts of phenotypic change to other life-history traits, reproduction, behavior, and development. For each of these questions, our aim is to combine levels, from the molecular basis creating these responses all the way to the role of these changes in species interactions and impacts on fish communities/populations

Expected Audience: We expect this session to attract biologists and ecologists from a broad range of disciplines, encompassing physiology, behaviour, morphology, life-history evolution, molecular sciences and population dynamics. We also expect the session to attract input from applied practitioners and resource managers who wish to consider the potential implications of phenotypic plasticity on population dynamics of particular species. This session can give guidance as to the mechanisms driving vulnerability and resilience in species and can help indicate future impacts on fish species and ecosystems.