The value of fluctuating asymmetry is considered to be an indicator of the developmental instability of the organism. The consequences of activities of the mining industry facilities, which are characterized by alienation and transformation of large areas of natural landscapes, are analyzed as an anthropogenic factor. The objects of study were small mammals (northern red-backed (Clethrionomys rutilus) and gray red-backed (Clethrionomys rufocanus) voles, tundra vole (Microtus oeconomus), Laxmann’s (Sorex caecutiens) and tundra (S. tundrensis) shrews) and trees (Japanese white birch (Betula platyphylla), Betula divaricate, Betula exilis, Duschekia fruticosa, and busket willow (Salix viminalis)). In total, 3500 skulls and approximately 30000 leaves collected in the taiga zone of Yakutia were studied. The index of fluctuating asymmetry, as well as population parameters and composition of small mammal communities, were analyzed. The data on the value of the fluctuating asymmetry in the studied species in natural habitats are given. It is shown that, in natural conditions, this parameter can rise with deterioration in living conditions, particularly at the ecological periphery of the range. Anthropogenic transformation of natural landscapes creates an “anthropogenic periphery” and causes changes similar to the adaptive responses at the northern limit of the distribution of species. It was found that, through pollution and disruption of ecosystems, the mining industry affects all levels of organization of the living matter, but the population and cenotic parameters give an unambiguous response only at macroanthropogenic transformations. Increase in the level of fluctuating asymmetry is the most sensitive indicator of anthropogenic impact and it should also be taken into account that disruptions in the developmental stability of an organism reflect the destructive processes occurring in the population and community.
Russian Journal of Developmental Biology – Springer Journals
Published: May 23, 2014
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