Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Fluctuating asymmetry as a putative marker of human-induced stress in avian conservation

  • Luc Lens (a1) and Hilde Eggermont (a2)
Abstract

As anthropogenic stress increasingly affects the viability of natural populations of animals and plants, conservation ecologists are challenged to identify vulnerable populations before their demographic and/or genetic properties become irreversibly affected. Since traditional biomarkers of anthropogenic stress are often cumbersome to measure, and populations may thus go extinct before appropriate data can be obtained, there is a growing interest in individual-based markers that do not require repeated captures, are relatively easy to measure, and allow mitigating action one step ahead. One such marker, left-right asymmetry in bilateral symmetrical traits (“fluctuating asymmetry”, FA) has become an established bioassay of the quality and health of individuals and populations in evolutionary-ecological studies. However, the lack of a theoretical framework that predicts under which ecological conditions relationships between FA, stress and fitness can be expected, continues to hamper the use of FA in applied conservation. Here, we briefly review the concept, measurement and analysis of FA, and appraise its expediency in a selection of 21 avian studies covering environmental or genetic stress commonly encountered in conservation biology. The majority of studies met the basic statistical requirements of FA analysis, and two-thirds reported significant, positive relationships with environmental or genetic stress, although with substantial variation among traits, stresses, ages and sexes. In most cases, the observed heterogeneity in relationships with FA could be explained by taking into account both methodological and conceptual issues. Effect sizes ranged from very small (0.02) to very large (0.76), with a weighted average of 0.30, indicating that on average 9% of variance in the variable of interest was explained by FA. Given the intrinsic difficulties associated with FA analysis, conservation ecologists are advised to combine information from FA with that of other individual-based biomarkers, such as the study of growth-bar dimensions on developing feathers.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Fluctuating asymmetry as a putative marker of human-induced stress in avian conservation
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Fluctuating asymmetry as a putative marker of human-induced stress in avian conservation
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Fluctuating asymmetry as a putative marker of human-induced stress in avian conservation
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
*Author for correspondance; e-mail: Luc.Lens@UGent.be
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Bird Conservation International
  • ISSN: 0959-2709
  • EISSN: 1474-0001
  • URL: /core/journals/bird-conservation-international
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 118 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 192 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.