Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 14, Issue 4–6, pp 563–570 | Cite as

Defining tolerance as a norm of reaction

  • Ellen L. Simms


Tolerance of an environmental factor is the ability to maintain fitness in the face of stress imposed by that factor. A tolerant genotype minimizes the decline in fitness from that achieved in a relatively benign environment to that produced in environments with more stressful levels of the factor. Hence, tolerance is a phenotypically plastic characteristic of a genotype that can be assessed only by measuring the genotype's fitness in more than one environment. The genotype's tolerance is characterized by the shape of the fitness reaction norm along the environmental gradient whereas the overall height of the function represents its general vigor.

adaptation compensation damage general vigor herbivory plant fitness tolerance stress 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen L. Simms
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Integrative Biology, University of California Botanical GardenUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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