Fluctuating asymmetry: Methods, theory, and applications

John H. Graham, Shmuel Raz, Hagit Hel-Or, Eviatar Nevo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Fluctuating asymmetry consists of random deviations from perfect symmetry in populations of organisms. It is a measure of developmental noise, which reflects a population's average state of adaptation and coadaptation. Moreover, it increases under both environmental and genetic stress, though responses are often inconsistent. Researchers base studies of fluctuating asymmetry upon deviations from bilateral, radial, rotational, dihedral, translational, helical, and fractal symmetries. Here, we review old and new methods of measuring fluctuating asymmetry, including measures of dispersion, landmark methods for shape asymmetry, and continuous symmetry measures. We also review the theory, developmental origins, and applications of fluctuating asymmetry, and attempt to explain conflicting results. In the process, we present examples from the literature, and from our own research at " Evolution Canyon" and elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-540
Number of pages75
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Continuous symmetry measures
  • Developmental instability
  • Evolution canyon
  • Fitness
  • Genomic coadaptation
  • Landmark methods
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Mathematics (all)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Fluctuating asymmetry: Methods, theory, and applications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this