The extensive use of pesticides in agricultural environments produces drastic effects on wildlife, hence the need for less invasive indicators of environmental stress to monitoring the impact of agriculture treatments on biological systems. Fluctuating asymmetry (FA), as measure of developmental instability, has recently been proposed as reliable biomarker of populations stress due to environmental disturbance. We investigate femoral pores (FP) and dorsal head shape (HS) traits in populations of the Italian wall lizard inhabiting agricultural environments to examine whether different pesticide exposures (conventional, organic and control) can cause distinctive degree of FA. High-resolution photographs of FP and HS were taken in the field with a digital camera. The number of FP were counted twice on both sides and HS was analysed using geometric morphometrics with 25 landmarks and 12 semilandmarks. Individuals under conventional management showed higher levels of FA compared to control ones, and females exhibited higher FA levels than males for the FP. However, no significant difference was found for the HS trait. Our study provided evidence that FA may have a real potential as biomarker of population stress in wall lizards, highlighting the importance in the choice of the experimental design and the traits adopted for estimating DI.
Simbula, G., Vignoli, L., Carretero, M.A., & Kaliontzopoulou, A. (2021). Fluctuating asymmetry as biomarker of pesticides exposure in the Italian wall lizards (Podarcis siculus). ZOOLOGY, 147, 125928 [10.1016/j.zool.2021.125928].