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Symmetry 2010, 2(2), 466-540; doi:10.3390/sym2020466

Fluctuating Asymmetry: Methods, Theory, and Applications

Department of Biology, Berry College, Mount Berry, Georgia 30149, USA
Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel
Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel
Department of Computer Science, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905 Israel
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 December 2009 / Revised: 27 February 2010 / Accepted: 15 March 2010 / Published: 25 March 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers: Symmetry Concepts and Applications)
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Fluctuating asymmetry consists of random deviations from perfect symmetry in populations of organisms. It is a measure of developmental noise, which reflects a population’s average state of adaptation and coadaptation. Moreover, it increases under both environmental and genetic stress, though responses are often inconsistent. Researchers base studies of fluctuating asymmetry upon deviations from bilateral, radial, rotational, dihedral, translational, helical, and fractal symmetries. Here, we review old and new methods of measuring fluctuating asymmetry, including measures of dispersion, landmark methods for shape asymmetry, and continuous symmetry measures. We also review the theory, developmental origins, and applications of fluctuating asymmetry, and attempt to explain conflicting results. In the process, we present examples from the literature, and from our own research at “Evolution Canyon” and elsewhere.
Keywords: continuous symmetry measures; developmental instability; Evolution Canyon; fitness; genomic coadaptation; landmark methods; stress continuous symmetry measures; developmental instability; Evolution Canyon; fitness; genomic coadaptation; landmark methods; stress

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Graham, J.H.; Raz, S.; Hel-Or, H.; Nevo, E. Fluctuating Asymmetry: Methods, Theory, and Applications. Symmetry 2010, 2, 466-540.

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