Fluctuating asymmetry and human male life-history traits in rural Belize

D. Waynforth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Fluctuating asymmetry (FA), used as a measure of phenotypic quality has proven to be a useful predictor of human life-history variation, but nothing is known about its effects in humans living in higher fecundity and mortality conditions, typical before industrialization and the demographic transition. In this research, I analyse data on male life histories for a relatively isolated population in rural Belize. Some of the 56 subjects practise subsistence-level slash-and-burn farming, and others are involved in the cash economy. Fecundity levels are quite high in this population, with men over the age of 40 averaging over eight children. Low FA successfully predicted lower morbidity and more offspring fathered, and was marginally associated with a lower age at first reproduction and more lifetime sex partners. These results indicate that FA may be important in predicting human performance in fecundity and morbidity in predemographic transition conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1497-1501
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1405
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 1998
Externally publishedYes


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