The concept of developmental instability (DI) is frequently used in evolutionary biology, and a range of definitions has been proposed. Moreover, numerous different statistical methods have been used for estimation of DI. The common basis for all methods is that measures need to be obtained from repeated structures within organisms. In the case of fluctuating asymmetry, mirror images could be interpreted as the repeats of each other. All repeats of a trait on one organism should, from a quantitative perspective, have the same genetic foundation. Most previous methods have not accounted for the genetics of the underlying trait. It is here shown how a statistical method from quantitative genetics (the repeated records animal model) can be used for assessment of DI, based on estimation of the variance due to the permanent environment. Moreover, Gibbs sampling is used for inference of the parameters, which provides a Bayesian framework where posterior distributions easily can be calculated from any functions of the variance components. The method is applied to a real dataset from two populations of the plant Scabiosa canescens, and results shows that it works well under realistic situations.
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Vol. 58 • No. 2