Fluctuating asymmetry (FA), which has been examined in a variety of plants and animals, is widely promoted as a useful bioindicator of exogenous stressors in habitats, whether of natural or anthropogenic origin. Wildlife managers and researchers often use a specific group of organisms as an indicator of the health of a given habitat. The purpose of this review is to demonstrate that FA can be an effective fish biomonitoring tool by presenting a vote counting meta-analysis of 81 fish FA studies published between 1966 and the first half of 2009. The vote counts were analyzed with the G test for independence to determine whether the probability of observing significant morphological asymmetry is determined by character type, exogenous stressor type, or fish order. The information obtained from these papers and their analysis is then used to outline areas in which FA studies can be improved: (1) carefully considering character choice; (2) distinguishing between asymmetry types; (3) determining the level of measurement error in between-sides character variation; (4) determining baseline FA levels in populations; (5) increasing the number of laboratory studies which corroborate field observations of FA; (6) conducting true replications of studies to validate previous findings. Only with more critical experimental design and data analysis can FA be used as a powerful tool for assessing environmental degradation.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 28, 2010
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