Fluctuating asymmetry as an indicator of fitness: can we bridge the gap between studies?

Lens, L, Van Dongen, S, Kark, S and Matthysen, E (2002) Fluctuating asymmetry as an indicator of fitness: can we bridge the gap between studies?. Biological Reviews, 77 1: 27-38. doi:10.1017/S1464793101005796


Author Lens, L
Van Dongen, S
Kark, S
Matthysen, E
Title Fluctuating asymmetry as an indicator of fitness: can we bridge the gap between studies?
Journal name Biological Reviews   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1464-7931
Publication date 2002-02-01
Year available 2002
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1017/S1464793101005796
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 77
Issue 1
Start page 27
End page 38
Total pages 12
Place of publication NEW YORK
Publisher CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS
Language eng
Abstract There is growing evidence from both experimental and non-experimental studies that fluctuating asymmetry does not consistently index stress or fitness. The widely held-yet poorly substantiated-belief that fluctuating asymmetry can act as a universal measure of developmental stability and predictor of stress-mediated changes in fitness, therefore staggers. Yet attempts to understand why the reported relationships between fluctuating asymmetry, stress and fitness are so heterogeneous - i.e. whether the associations are truly weak or non-existent or whether they become confounded during different stages of the analytical pathways-remain surprisingly scarce. Hence, we attempt to disentangle these causes, by reviewing the various statistical and conceptual factors that arc suspected to confound potential relationships between fluctuating asymmetry, stress and fitness. Two main categories of factors are discerned: those associated with the estimation of developmental stability through fluctuating asymmetry, and those associated with the effects of genotype and environment on developmental stability. Next, we describe a series of statistical tools that have recently been developed to help reduce this noise. We argue that the current lack of a theoretical framework that predicts if and when relationships with developmental stability can be expected, urges for further theoretical and empirical research, such as on the genetic architecture of developmental stability in stressed populations. If the underlying developmental mechanisms are better understood, statistical patterns of asymmetry variation may become a biologically meaningful tool.
Keyword fluctuating asymmetry (FA)
developmental stability
stress
inbreeding
fitness
Fragmented Afrotropical Forest
Organism-Wide Asymmetry
Red-Winged Blackbirds
Developmental Stability
Directional Asymmetry
Sexual Selection
Genetic-Basis
Environmental-Stress
Conservation Biology
Habitat Disturbance
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collection: ResearcherID Downloads - Archived
 
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