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The distribution of individual fluctuating asymmetry: why are the coefficients of variation of the unsigned FA so high?

, : The distribution of individual fluctuating asymmetry: why are the coefficients of variation of the unsigned FA so high?. Annales Zoologici Fennici. 30 September; 352: 79-85

It has been established for a long time that rigorous statistical analyses of fluctuating asymmetry (FA) requires great caution. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, the magnitude of FA is often small and measurement error (ME) may substantially bias asymmetry estimates, and secondly, there are other forms of asymmetry that are sometimes difficult to distinguish from real FA. To avoid bias due to ME, within-subject repeats and mixed model analysis are required. The model assumptions, however, are that both FA and ME are normally distributed. In this paper I show that in many cases these assumptions are not met. In particular, available data in the literature and these presented here suggests that FA (signed) often has a leptokurtic distribution, as indicated by relative high coefficients of variation of the absolute value of the signed FA. This may be due to patterns of antisymmetry and/or heterogeneity of FA within the sample.


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