Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) is used to reveal environmental or genetic stress, but the results of some studies are inconsistent. We aimed to give some explanations of possible controversial conclusions, when FA was employed. We measured FA (one dimensional and one meristic traits) in the recognized bioindicators—ground beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae). Beetles were sampled in a vast area (four provinces of Russia with the spectrum of the studied sites, which differed in anthropogenic impact, vegetation, and landscape features). On the basis of such measurements (4673 specimen) we created a data base. Subsequent ANOVA showed, that FA was species-specific (out of six species investigated it was expressed in five ones), sex-biased (males had higher levels of FA), and were affected practically by all environmental factors. Besides significant species–sex and factors–sex interactions were found. So, when employing FA as an indicator of stress, overall biological and ecological variation in species-indicator must be investigated before. Sometimes FA (or its absence) may not be due to pollution or another disturbing factor, but be the result of the effect of unaccounted but FA determinative factors.
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