Stress is a major factor in evolution, but for stress-induced modifications to have evolutionary importance they have to be inherited and persist in a sufficient number of individuals within a population. This requires an organism to survive stress and reproduce at least once; thus stress-induced variation has to be accommodated by an organism without much reduction in its functionality. How is such accommodation accomplished?
In an article in the September issue of The American Naturalist, Alexander V. Badyaev (University of Arizona) and colleagues show that complexity and cohesiveness of foraging structures of shrews enables accommodation of stress-induced developmental abnormalities in individual components of morphological complexes. Such developmental compensation and accommodation not only allow shrews growing under stressful environments to maintain locally adaptive foraging morphology, but also provide a mechanism for stress-induced evolutionary change.
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Alexander V. Badyaev (University of Arizona), Kerry R. Foresman (University of Montana), and Rebecca L. Young (University of Arizona), "Evolution of morphological integration: Developmental accommodation of stress-induced variation" 166:3 September 2005.
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