Special Issue "Symmetry in Ecology and Evolution: Concepts, Patterns and Statistical Analyses"

A special issue of Symmetry (ISSN 2073-8994). This special issue belongs to the section "Biology and Symmetry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Stefan Van Dongen
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Guest Editor
Evolutionary Ecology group, Department of Biology, Antwerp University, Belgium
Interests: evolutionary ecology; developmental instability; fluctuating asymmetry; biostatistics; fitness; stress
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

For decades, morphological asymmetries have been of interest to biologists.

Conspicuous asymmetries have raised important evolutionary questions including ‘why do fiddler crabs have one larger claw?’ and ‘why is the large tusk of the narwhal always on the left side?’.

More subtle asymmetries, termed fluctuating asymmetry, have been of interest as a measure of developmental instability. Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) potentially reflects (developmental) stress and quality or fitness for both individuals and populations in an ecological and evolutionary framework. Challenges of this research have been enormous, which have shaped it into a demanding and inspirational discipline.

Links between FA and measures of stress and quality are very heterogeneous and very little is known about the biological origins of this variation. Do morphological asymmetries function as a signal of quality and health of individuals or does it covary with variation in signals? How can subtle asymmetries in size and shape be estimated accurately and what biological phenomena do they reflect? These are just a selection of challenges that remain. The aim of this Special Issue on “Symmetry in Ecology and Evolution: Concepts, Patterns and Statistical analyses” is to continue highlighting these open questions.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Van Dongen
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Symmetry is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • asymmetry
  • fluctuating asymmetry
  • developmental instability
  • ecology, evolution
  • sexual selection
  • natural selection
  • stress
  • fitness

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Variation in Leaf Size and Fluctuating Asymmetry of Mountain Birch (Betula pubescens var. pumila) in Space and Time: Implications for Global Change Research
Symmetry 2020, 12(10), 1703; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym12101703 - 16 Oct 2020
Abstract
Experimental, latitudinal, and historical approaches have been used to explore and/or predict the effects of global change on biota, and each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages. The weaknesses of these individual approaches can, potentially, be avoided by applying them simultaneously, but [...] Read more.
Experimental, latitudinal, and historical approaches have been used to explore and/or predict the effects of global change on biota, and each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages. The weaknesses of these individual approaches can, potentially, be avoided by applying them simultaneously, but this is rarely done in global change research. Here, we explored the temporal and spatial variations in the leaf size and fluctuating asymmetry (FA) of mountain birch (Betula pubescens var. pumila) in the Murmansk region of Russia, with the aim of verifying the predictions derived from the responses of these traits to experimental manipulations of abiotic drivers of global change. The examination of herbarium specimens revealed that leaf length increased during the 20th century, whereas the FA in the number of leaf teeth decreased, presumably reflecting an increase in the carbon and nitrogen availability to plants in that century. Along a northward latitudinal gradient, leaf length decreased whereas FA increased, presumably due to the poleward decreases in air temperature. The study site, collection year, and latitude explained a larger part of the leaf length variation in mountain birch relative to the variation in FA. Leaf length is likely a better indicator than FA in studies addressing global environmental change impacts on plant performance. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Multivariate Approach to Determine the Dimensionality of Human Facial Asymmetry
Symmetry 2020, 12(3), 348; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym12030348 - 01 Mar 2020
Abstract
Many studies have suggested that developmental instability (DI) could lead to asymmetric development, otherwise known as fluctuating asymmetry (FA). Several attempts to unravel the biological meaning of FA have been made, yet the main step in estimating FA is to remove the effects [...] Read more.
Many studies have suggested that developmental instability (DI) could lead to asymmetric development, otherwise known as fluctuating asymmetry (FA). Several attempts to unravel the biological meaning of FA have been made, yet the main step in estimating FA is to remove the effects of directional asymmetry (DA), which is defined as the average bilateral asymmetry at the population level. Here, we demonstrate in a multivariate context that the conventional method of DA correction does not adequately compensate for the effects of DA in other dimensions of asymmetry. This appears to be due to the presence of between-individual variation along the DA dimension. Consequently, we propose to decompose asymmetry into its different orthogonal dimensions, where we introduce a new measure of asymmetry, namely fluctuating directional asymmetry (F-DA). This measure describes individual variation in the dimension of DA, and can be used to adequately correct the asymmetry measurements for the presence of DA. We provide evidence that this measure can be useful in disentangling the different dimensions of asymmetry, and further studies on this measure can provide valuable insight into the underlying biological processes leading to these different asymmetry dimensions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Lack of Correlation between Facial Sexual Dimorphism, Fluctuating Asymmetry and Self-Perceived Attractiveness in Men and Women
Symmetry 2020, 12(2), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym12020236 - 04 Feb 2020
Abstract
Human morphological sexual dimorphism and fluctuating asymmetry have been suggested to signal ‘individual quality’ and are therefore expected to covary as well as to correlate with surrogate fitness/quality measures like attractiveness and dominance. While some case studies indeed found support for these hypotheses, [...] Read more.
Human morphological sexual dimorphism and fluctuating asymmetry have been suggested to signal ‘individual quality’ and are therefore expected to covary as well as to correlate with surrogate fitness/quality measures like attractiveness and dominance. While some case studies indeed found support for these hypotheses, the overall evidence is not overwhelming. However, most previous research used a limited number of landmarks to quantify masculinity and asymmetry. We here present results based on high-density 3D scans covering the entire facial area. In spite of these more detailed measurements, no significant associations were detected. These results are in line with conclusions of recent meta-analyses and cast doubt on the role of masculinity and fluctuating asymmetry as signals of (genetic) quality. Full article
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