Deviations in bilateral symmetry or fluctuating asymmetry of an organism may result under environmental stressors that reduce developmental homeostasis and stability. Anthropogenic stressors such as increased urbanization can negatively impact environmental quality of aquatic ecosystems. Researchers have stressed the value in finding easy, accurate and inexpensive methods for assessing potential stress within ecosystems. Here we use fluctuating asymmetry (FA) as a useful quantitative tool in assessing the environmental quality and potential urban-based stressors within eight creeks of the Bull and Upatoi Creeks Watershed within the larger watershed of the Middle Chattahoochee. Using Geographic Information System (GIS), we characterize land-use patterns and a decreasing urbanization gradient as related to each creek’s eastward position from Columbus, Georgia. We collected two common fishes (redbreast sunfish; Lepomis auritus and bluegill; Lepomis macrochirus), measured both metric and meristic traits and investigated if the degree of FA in these two common fishes correlated with the urbanization gradient across creeks. We found significant differences in FA among creeks with one of the highest FA measures for the most urban creek. Principal component analysis (PCA) scores of urbanization and water chemistry were regressed against FA scores. We found no significant relationship between urbanization and FA nor environmental water chemistry and FA among creeks. We comment on the use of FA as a potential response variable and biological indicator of environmental stress within this watershed.
Lutterschmidt, W. I.,
Martin, S. L.,
(2016). Fluctuating Asymmetry in Two Common Freshwater Fishes as a Biological Indicator of Urbanization and Environmental Stress Within the Middle Chattahoochee Watershed. Symmetry, 8(11), 1-17.
Available at: https://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/15399