New Publication in Studies in History and Philosophy of Life Sciences

Plasticity, stability, and yield: The origins of Anthony David Bradshaw's model of adaptive phenotypic plasticity

A new paper by Erick Peirson in Studies in History and Philosophy of Life Sciences is available online.

Plant ecologist Anthony David Bradshaw's account of the evolution of adaptive phenotypic plasticity remains central to contemporary research aimed at understanding how organisms persist in heterogeneous environments. Bradshaw suggested that changes in particular traits in response to specific environmental factors could be under direct genetic control, and that natural selection could therefore act directly to shape those responses: plasticity was not “noise” obscuring a genetic signal, but could be specific and refined just as any other adaptive phenotypic trait. In this paper, I document the contexts and development of Bradshaw's investigation of phenotypic plasticity in plants, including a series of unreported experiments in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

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