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Fluctuating Asymmetry in Central and Marginal Populations of Lychnis viscaria in Relation to Genetic and Environmental Factors

Pirkko Siikamaki and Antti Lammi
Evolution
Vol. 52, No. 5 (Oct., 1998), pp. 1285-1292
DOI: 10.2307/2411298
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2411298
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Fluctuating Asymmetry in Central and Marginal Populations of Lychnis viscaria in Relation to Genetic and Environmental Factors
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Abstract

Developmental instability in the form of increased fluctuating asymmetry can be caused by either genetic or environmental stress. Because extinctions can be attributed broadly to these factors, fluctuating asymmetry may provide a sensitive tool for detecting such stresses. We studied the level of fluctuating asymmetry of flowers of a perennial outcrossing plant species, Lychnis viscaria, both in natural and common-garden populations. The degree of flower asymmetry was higher in small, isolated, and marginal populations of the species range. These marginal populations also were the most homozygous. In the core area of the species' range, flowers were more symmetrical. The level of asymmetry was correlated with both population size and heterozygosity. However, a partial correlation analysis revealed that when the impact of population size was controlled for, there was a negative relationship between fluctuating asymmetry and heterozygosity, whereas when controlling for heterozygosity, no relationship between population size and fluctuating asymmetry was found. This indicates that genetic consequences of small population size probably underlie the relationship between the level of asymmetry and population size. Results from a transplantation experiment showed that individuals subjected to a higher environmental stress had an increased level of asymmetry compared to control plants. In the common-garden conditions the level of fluctuating asymmetry did not differ between the central and marginal populations. This suggests that presumably both genetic and environmental factors affected to the higher level of asymmetry among marginal populations compared to central ones. In all, we conclude that even though fluctuating asymmetry seems to be a sensitive tool for detecting stresses, results from studies focusing on only one factor should be interpreted with caution.

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