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Induced phenotypic plasticity alters intraspecific interactions
  • Alicia Foxx
Alicia Foxx
Northwestern University
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Abstract

Plant interactions play key roles in coexistence, where intraspecific neighbors must compete more intensely than interspecific neighbors to promote species coexistence. But because plastic responses can alter traits and interactions, including intraspecific interactions, plasticity can hinder or promote species coexistence. Whether plasticity induced by different types of competitors can impact mechanisms of coexistence remains unknown. To address this, I used a transplant experiment to induce plastic responses with intraspecific or interspecific interactions. Then, I investigated the effects of the induced phenotype on new intraspecific interactions. The interspecific interaction treatment induced plastic responses, producing facilitative outcomes. In the subsequent intraspecific interactions, interspecific-induced individuals exhibited more competitive intraspecific interactions than intraspecific-induced individuals, even though the initial induced effect was positive. This study demonstrates that interspecific interactions may play an indirect role in stabilizing niche mechanisms via induced plasticity, furthering our understanding of how plastic responses impact interactions and species coexistence.