The effect of inbreeding on fluctuating asymmetry in Scabiosa canescens (Dipsacaceae)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Developmental instability and fluctuating asymmetry (FA) describe the inability of organisms to correct for random accidents under development and has become a major but controversial topic in evolutionary biology. Theoretical models predict that the level of FA should increase as a result of inbreeding, but empirical results are ambiguous. Moreover, the relationship between fitness and FA is still debated. In the current study, plants from a population of Scabiosa canescens, a locally rare species in southern Sweden, were raised under uniform growth conditions to examine the effects of one-generation of selfing and outcrossing on FA in flower morphology. The level of flower FA was significantly higher (p = 0.038) for inbred progeny than for offspring derived from outcross pollinations. Given that earlier studies of this species have found no negative relation between heterozygosity and FA, the results support the conclusion that expression of deleterious recessive alleles are responsible for the increase of FA. There was no correlation between FA and estimates of five fitness-related traits when estimated at the individual level. However, a companion study found significant inbreeding depression for all fitness traits, and a negative association between FA and fitness could therefore be asserted at the treatment level (inbred/outbred progeny). Hence, FA seems to be useful to predict inbreeding depression in S. canescens, but specific individuals with high fitness cannot be identified based on their FA levels.


  • P Waldmann
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-127
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Plant Ecology and Systematics (Closed 2011) (011004000)