Researchers have suggested fluctuating asymmetry (FA) as an indicator of environmental stress and have usually tested this assertion by examining relations between FA of single traits and stress. Fluctuating asymmetry stress relations are real but are typically weak and difficult to detect. Researchers would like to maximize the probability of detecting FA-stress relations when they exist. We assert that analyses based on the FA of multiple traits may provide better methods for detecting stress, in this article, we used computer simulations to compare the ability of six analyses to detect differences in FA between stressed and unstressed populations. We show that the optimal analysis depends upon the underlying form of the FA distributions. We also show that two of the analyses had inflated Type I errors in some situations. Finally, we quantify the advantage of our preferred analysis over those of single-trait FA in detecting stress.

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Keywords Bioindicator, Composite fluctuating asymmetry, Power, Stress
Persistent URL
Journal American Naturalist
Leung, B. (Brian), Forbes, M, & Houle, D. (David). (2000). Fluctuating asymmetry as a bioindicator of stress: Comparing efficacy of analyses involving multiple traits. American Naturalist, 155(1), 101–115. doi:10.1086/303298