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  • 1 Aarhus University, Flakkebjerg Research Centre Department of Agroecology DK-4200 Slagelse Denmark
  • | 2 Eötvös Loránd University MTA-ELTE-MTM Ecology Research Group, Biological Institute Pázmány Péter s. 1C H-1117 Budapest Hungary
  • | 3 Eötvös Loránd University Department of Systematic Zoology and Ecology Pázmány Péter s. 1C H-1117 Budapest Hungary
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Environmental stress can lead to a reduction in developmental homeostasis, which could be reflected in increased variability of morphological traits. Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) is one possible manifestation of such a stress, and is often taken as a proxy for individual fitness. To test the usefulness of FA in morphological traits as an indicator of environmental quality, we studied the effect of urbanisation on FA in ground beetles (Carabidae) near a Danish city. First, we performed a critical examination whether morphological character traits suggested in the literature displayed true fluctuating asymmetry in three common predatory ground beetles, Carabus nemoralis, Nebria brevicollis and Pterostichus melanarius. Eight metrical (length of the second and third antennal segments, elytral length, length of the first tarsus segment, length of the first and second tibiae, length of the proximal and distal spines on the first femurs) and one meristic (the number of spines on the second tibiae) traits were examined. Most of them showed FA but not consistently. Females generally displayed a higher level of FA than males. Finally, we examined the changes in the level of FA in bilateral morphological traits along an urbanisation gradient (forest - suburban forest - forest fragments in urban park) to test whether environmental stress created by urbanisation is reflected in FA. Ground beetles common along a Danish urbanisation gradient did not seem to indicate differences in habitat quality by their level of FA.

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