Stefan Van Dongen

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There is growing evidence from both experimental and non-experimental studies that fluctuating asymmetry does not consistently index stress or fitness. The widely held--yet poorly substantiated--belief that fluctuating asymmetry can act as a universal measure of developmental stability and predictor of stress-mediated changes in fitness, therefore staggers.(More)
The second to fourth digit ratio (2D:4D) is smaller in human males than in females and hence this trait is sexually dimorphic. The digit ratio is thought to be established during early prenatal development under the influence of prenatal sex hormones. However, the general assumption of early establishment has hardly been studied. In our study, we analyzed(More)
Domestic fleas were collected in 12 villages in the western Usambara Mountains in Tanzania. Of these, 7 are considered villages with high plague frequency, where human plague was recorded during at least 6 of the 17 plague seasons between 1986 and 2004. In the remaining 5 villages with low plague frequency, plague was either rare or unrecorded. Pulex(More)
BACKGROUND Fluctuating asymmetry (FA), reflecting developmental instability (DI), may honestly signal individual quality and relate to human attractiveness and measures of sexual behaviour. The evolutionary importance of these associations, however, critically depends on the role of DI in driving these correlations. A direct effect of FA reduces the role of(More)
In spite of over half a century of research, little is known about the genetic basis of developmental instability (DI). The estimation of the heritability of DI is seriously hampered by the fact that fluctuating asymmetry-FA, that is, the observable outcome of DI-only poorly reflects DI. This results in an underestimation of the heritability of DI. Current(More)
We investigated both the phenotypic and developmental integration of eyespots on the fore- and hindwings of speckled wood butterflies Pararge aegeria. Eyespots develop within a framework of wing veins, which may not only separate eyespots developmentally, but may at the same time also integrate them by virtue of being both signalling sources and barriers(More)
Contemporary theory predicts that the degree of mimetic similarity of mimics towards their model should increase as the mimic/model ratio increases. Thus, when the mimic/model ratio is high, then the mimic has to resemble the model very closely to still gain protection from the signal receiver. To date, empirical evidence of this effect is limited to a(More)
Dispersal distance is understudied although the evolution of dispersal distance affects the distribution of genetic diversity through space. Using the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae, we tested the conditions under which dispersal distance could evolve. To this aim, we performed artificial selection based on dispersal distance by choosing 40(More)
BACKGROUND Studies of the process of human mate selection and attractiveness have assumed that selection favours morphological features that correlate with (genetic) quality. Degree of masculinity/femininity and fluctuating asymmetry (FA) may signal (genetic) quality, but what information they harboured and how they relate to fitness is still debated. AIM(More)
Recent studies have suggested that the ratio of the length of the second and fourth digit (2D:4D) may be associated with developmental instability (DI) as measured by the left-right asymmetry of the same digits. Because the 2D:4D ratio is amongst others, determined prenatally as a result of exposure to sex hormones, such an association could indicate that(More)