Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Adaptive Plasticity

  • Víctor M. LongaEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2122-1



Property of a given genotype to produce different phenotypes depending on different environmental conditions, thereby enhancing organisms’ fitness.


The relationship between organism and environment is highly dynamical and can be thought of as a trade-off between the demands imposed by the environment and the organism’s adjustments to those demands. On the one hand, the environments change; on the other hand, organisms fit the requirements posed by the new conditions “in the struggle for life.” Phenotypic plasticity, the capacity of a genotype to give rise to different phenotypes in response to different environmental conditions, is crucial if organisms are to adapt to new environments. Adaptive plasticity is simply the phenotypic plasticity that enhances the organisms’ fitness.

Although plasticity has been known for over a century, until recently it was taken to be...

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This entry has benefitted from a grant of the Spanish Government (Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness) (Ref. FFI2017-87699-P).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of PhilologyUniversidade de Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain

Section editors and affiliations

  • Karin Machluf
    • 1
  1. 1.Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA