Fluctuating Asymmetry as a Measure of Stress: Influence of Natural and Anthropogenic Factors

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2023) | Viewed by 10192

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg Universitet, Aalborg, Denmark
Interests: fluctuating asymmetry; developmental instability; behavioural instability; conservation genomics
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Institute for Biological Problems of Cryolithozone, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Yakutsk, Russia
Interests: fluctuating asymmetry

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In 2020, we published a Special Issue of Symmetry, “Fluctuating Asymmetry as a Measure of Stress”, with articles devoted to changes in the FA of trees, insects, and small mammals under the effect of stress-inducing, primarily anthropogenic factors. Because FA has for a long time been rather widely used as an indicator of developmental stability and environmental condition, we believe that the body of the collected data is considerably more extensive, so we continue the discussion in the next Special Issue, “Fluctuating Asymmetry as a Measure of Stress: Influence of Natural and Anthropogenic Factors”.

We hope to see papers devoted to FA variability in a wide circle of species: studies analyzing this parameter within the optimum and on the periphery of the geographic range, papers discussing the dependency of FA on climatic factors, etc. We welcome papers devoted to using FA as an indicator of anthropogenic impact on the environment and for assessment of the state of populations of separate species. Of interest is also the analysis of specific responses of FA to different stress-inducing factors of both natural and anthropogenic origin. Of great interest is the assessment of usefulness of different features for measuring the FA level, development of assessment scale of the environment state, and methods of applying FA as an indicator of negative impact.

Prof. Dr. Cino Pertoldi
Prof. Dr. Elena Shadrina
Guest Editors

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Published Papers (6 papers)

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Editorial

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4 pages, 152 KiB  
Editorial
Special Issue: “Fluctuating Asymmetry as a Measure of Stress: Influence of Natural and Anthropogenic Factors”
by Elena Shadrina and Cino Pertoldi
Symmetry 2024, 16(5), 539; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym16050539 - 1 May 2024
Viewed by 720
Abstract
The main cause of stress, according to Selye [...] Full article

Research

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20 pages, 2518 KiB  
Article
Fluctuating Asymmetry as a Measure of Stress in Natural Populations of Woody Plants: Influence of Ecological and Geographical Factors on Developmental Stability
by Elena Shadrina, Victoria Soldatova and Nina Turmukhametova
Symmetry 2023, 15(3), 700; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym15030700 - 10 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1366
Abstract
Fluctuating asymmetry is a sensitive indicator of favorable conditions during the period of individual development. The influence of climatic factors, biotopic conditions, latitude, altitude, and age of plants from the natural populations of the silver birch Betula pendula Roth was analyzed. The material [...] Read more.
Fluctuating asymmetry is a sensitive indicator of favorable conditions during the period of individual development. The influence of climatic factors, biotopic conditions, latitude, altitude, and age of plants from the natural populations of the silver birch Betula pendula Roth was analyzed. The material consisted of 13,000 leaves of the silver birch from 11 regions of north-eastern Siberia. The influence of 23 climatic factors and six integrated coefficients characterizing the general suitability of the climate, as well as summer, winter, spring, and autumn was analyzed. The developmental stability of woody plants and, consequently, the level of the FA of the lamina in natural biotopes can vary in a wide range. We found that climatic factors, mainly conditions in the warm season, have a significant impact. We also noted the influence of the age, biotope, and light conditions. For Betula pendula, an increase in FA was registered on the ecological periphery of its range, i.e., on the edge of the forest belt in the north and in the mountains. The data obtained demonstrate the high influence of natural stress-inducing factors on development stability in plants. Full article
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8 pages, 1228 KiB  
Article
Phenotypic Variation in a Species Range: Another Look (Developmental Stability Study of the Meristic Variation in the Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis)
by Vladimir M. Zakharov, Nadezhda P. Zhdanova and Ilya E. Trofimov
Symmetry 2022, 14(11), 2426; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym14112426 - 16 Nov 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1087
Abstract
Variation of the meristic characteristics of pholidosis in the sand lizard, Lacerta agilis, was studied both in laboratory experiments and in natural populations. The total phenotypic variability was assessed by the variation of the sum of the number of scales on the [...] Read more.
Variation of the meristic characteristics of pholidosis in the sand lizard, Lacerta agilis, was studied both in laboratory experiments and in natural populations. The total phenotypic variability was assessed by the variation of the sum of the number of scales on the left and on the right sides of the body (l + r), while the measure of developmental stability, providing insight into the degree of fluctuating asymmetry, or developmental variability, was assessed by the variation of the difference in the character values on the left and on the right (l − r). Experimental incubation of eggs at different temperatures demonstrates that the minimal level of both kinds of variability corresponds to a certain temperature, which can be characterized as an optimal one, increasing both with an increase and with a decrease in the temperature from this regime. The data demonstrate the crucial role of the temperature impact for the phenotypic variation under study. An increase in the level of developmental variability to the north and to the south from the center part of the species range, in the absence of an obvious trend in geographic variation of the level of total phenotypic variability, assumes an increase in the role of developmental variability in the observed phenotypic diversity at the periphery of the species range. The results obtained indicate the importance of a population phenogenetic approach, based on the developmental stability study in natural populations, to provide certain information supposing the possible nature of phenotypic diversity in a species range. Full article
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6 pages, 1956 KiB  
Communication
Developmental Noise and Biological System Condition: Prolegomena
by Vladimir M. Zakharov and Ilya E. Trofimov
Symmetry 2022, 14(11), 2380; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym14112380 - 11 Nov 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1342
Abstract
Developmental noise is a variety that is not related to the usually distinguished sources of phenotypic diversity, i.e., differences in the genotype and in the environment. This variation arises in the process of the realization of genetic information and reflects the imperfection of [...] Read more.
Developmental noise is a variety that is not related to the usually distinguished sources of phenotypic diversity, i.e., differences in the genotype and in the environment. This variation arises in the process of the realization of genetic information and reflects the imperfection of ontogenetic processes. The most common measure of it is the value of fluctuating asymmetry as slight deviations from the symmetry. Developmental noise proves to be one of the main sources of intrapopulation phenotypic diversity. The magnitude of this variability is an ontogenetic response to environmental or genetic stress, and its assessment, in fact, provides a unique opportunity to estimate the developing system condition. The level of developmental noise, characterizing an organism’s condition, acts as another population parameter that allows to approach the evaluation of the community condition. Initial deviations in the system condition can be detected even against the background of optimal estimates of abundance, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning. Full article
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16 pages, 1626 KiB  
Article
Differential Impact of Forest Fragmentation on Fluctuating Asymmetry in South Amazonian Small Mammals
by Welvis Felipe Fernandes Castilheiro, Francesc Muñoz-Muñoz, Jacint Ventura, Manoel dos Santos-Filho, Maria da Luz Mathias and Sofia Isabel Gabriel
Symmetry 2022, 14(5), 981; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym14050981 - 11 May 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3085
Abstract
(1) Background: Southern Amazonia encompasses some of the most human-impacted and deforested regions of South America, resulting in a hyper-fragmented landscape. In this context, by using a geometric morphometrics approach, we aimed to examine the effect of forest fragmentation on developmental instability (DI) [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Southern Amazonia encompasses some of the most human-impacted and deforested regions of South America, resulting in a hyper-fragmented landscape. In this context, by using a geometric morphometrics approach, we aimed to examine the effect of forest fragmentation on developmental instability (DI) of the mandible, assessed by variation of fluctuating asymmetry (FA), in four neotropical small mammal species inhabiting the municipality of Alta Floresta (Brazil). (2) Methods: The impact of fragment area, fragment shape, isolation, and edge length on DI were assessed by measuring variation in mandibular FA in the long-tailed spiny rat (Proechimys longicaudatus), the hairy-tailed bolo mouse (Necromys lasiurus), the woolly mouse opossum (Marmosa demerarae), and the Amazonian red-sided opossum (Monodelphis glirina). Mandibles from a total of 304 specimens originating from different-sized fragments (ranging from 5 to 900 ha) were used. Twelve homologous landmarks were digitized in photographs of the mesial view of each hemi-mandible. (3) Results: The two largest species, P. longicaudatus and M. demerarae, exhibited significantly higher levels of FA in mandibular shape in small fragments (5–26 ha) in comparison to large ones (189–900 ha). Edge length negatively impacted M. demerarae, the only arboreal species, reinforcing its strongest dependence on core forest habitats. (4) Conclusions: For small mammal communities, we propose that fragments >~200 ha should be the focus of conservation efforts, as both resilient and more sensitive species would benefit from their more preserved biotic and abiotic conditions. Conversely, fragments <~25 ha seem to lead to a significant increase in stress during developmental stages. Full article
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11 pages, 1815 KiB  
Article
Geometric Morphometrics of Bilateral Asymmetry in Eunotia bilunaris (Eunotiales, Bacillariophyceae) as a Tool for the Quantitative Assessment of Teratogenic Deviations in Frustule Shapes
by Katerina Woodard and Jiri Neustupa
Symmetry 2022, 14(1), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym14010042 - 30 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1572
Abstract
A number of pennate diatom genera typically have teratogenic deformations of their siliceous frustules due to the effects of environmental stress, such as high concentrations of heavy metals and low pH. However, the quantitative assessment of these deformations has rarely been applied. One [...] Read more.
A number of pennate diatom genera typically have teratogenic deformations of their siliceous frustules due to the effects of environmental stress, such as high concentrations of heavy metals and low pH. However, the quantitative assessment of these deformations has rarely been applied. One species in which aberrations have frequently been reported is Eunotia bilunaris, which typically has bilaterally symmetric frustules with dorso-ventral differentiation. In this study, we aimed to illustrate the geometric morphometric analysis of symmetry as a tool for assessing the severity of teratogenic deformations. These were quantified by Procrustes superimposition of equidistant points placed along the valvar outlines in pairs of configurations based on their bilateral reflection symmetry. The shape deformations were mostly confined to central parts of the ventral outlines and were captured both by the symmetric and asymmetric subspaces of the variation. The amount of bilateral asymmetry in individual cells was negatively related to frustule size via the allometric power law relationship, illustrating that asymmetry increased in the asexual diminution series. The presented analysis provides a framework for the quantitative assessment of frustule deformations in eunotioid diatoms that can be used for the comparative scoring of teratogenic deviations among cells, populations, or species. Full article
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