Individual fluctuating asymmetry in pied flycatchers(Ficedula hypoleuca) persists across moults,but is not heritable and not related to fitness

Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) Science Article 7


Neither composite nor single trait fluctuating asymmetry was associated withindividual condition, attractiveness, reproductive success or survival. Estimated heritabilitiesof signed and unsigned fluctuating asymmetry were low and non-significant. This impliesthat fluctuating asymmetry was a poor predictor of genetic quality or phenotypic condition.Among-individual differences in fluctuating asymmetry therefore had little biologicalsignificance. Individual signed asymmetries persisted from the nestling stage to adulthood, andacross at least two moults for adults. Plumage fluctuating asymmetry therefore reflecteddevelopmental noise acting on the embryological development of the feather follicles, ratherthan on the actual growth of the feathers.

Leif Christian Stige, Tore Slagsvold and Leif Asbjorn Vollestad, Evolutionary Ecology Research, 2005, 7: 381-406

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