Croll, Jasper C.; Tobias van Kooteen and Andre M. de Roos

Growth in individual body size amongst different species can to a greater or lesser extent depend on environmental factors such as resource availability. Individual growth curves can therefore be largely fixed or more plastic. Classic theory about phenotypic plasticity assumes that such plasticity has associated costs. In contrast, according to dynamic energy budget theory, maintaining a fixed growth rate in the face of variable resource availability would incur additional energetic costs. In this article, we explore the simultaneous evolution of the degree of plasticity in individual growth curves and the rate of non-plastic, environment-independent individual growth. We explore different relations between possible additional energetic costs and the degree of growth curve plasticity. To do so, we use adaptive dynamics to analyze a size-structured population model that is based on dynamic energy budget theory to account for the energetic trade-offs within an individual. We show that simultaneous evolution of the degree of growth curve plasticity and the rate of non-plastic individual growth will drive these traits to intermediate values at first. Afterwards, the degree of growth curve plasticity might evolve slowly towards extreme values depending on whether energetic costs increase or decrease with the degree of plasticity. In addition, the analysis shows that it is unlikely to encounter species in which individual growth is entirely fixed or entirely plastic, opposing general assumptions in dynamic energy budget theory.