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  • 1 Universidade Federal de São João Del Rei, Pç. Dom Helvécio, 74, Dom Bosco, São João Del Rei - MG, Brazil
  • 2 UFMG - Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Av. Pres. Antônio Carlos, 6627, Pampulha, Belo Horizonte - MG, Brazil
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Abstract

We present a novel analysis of fluctuating asymmetry (FA) for butterfly wings at the community-level, along an altitudinal gradient. FA is an important biomonitoring tool that detects deviations of perfect symmetry in bilateral characters, assuming that genetic and/or environmental factors can be a source of stress. This study evaluated the effects of increased altitude on the symmetry of butterfly wings, testing the hypothesis that FA should increase with increased elevation in a tropical mountain. Butterflies were sampled along an altitudinal gradient of 800 to 1.400 m and forewings were detached, scanned and evaluated for symmetry. Length, width and area of the right and left forewings were measured as surrogates for FA and then combined into an index taking into account the variability of wing sizes of the whole butterfly community. We observed true patterns of FA in the length, width and area of the wings, and wing FA area increased with increased altitude. This study pioneered the analysis of FA for a community of butterflies and FA was efficient to detect developmental instability indicated by imperfections in butterfly wings.

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