urchinsThe ability to respond to variable environments can be gained and lost throughout evolutionary time. Since plasticity is thought to aid in colonization of new habitats and range expansions, plasticity is likely ancestral and then lost as new adaptive traits become fixed. As the lab continues to define the molecular mechanisms underlying plasticity, we gain additional tools that we use to compare species’. Through comparative studies, we will understand the ecological drivers and molecular changes that led to the gain or loss of responses to the environment.