Development Genes and Evolution

, Volume 226, Issue 3, pp 187–196 | Cite as

Modularity and developmental stability in segmented animals: variation in translational asymmetry in geophilomorph centipedes

  • Yoland Savriama
  • Marco Vitulo
  • Sylvain Gerber
  • Vincent Debat
  • Giuseppe Fusco
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Size and Shape


Does a modular body organization present a challenge for developmental control? We investigate the idea of a possible developmental cost of modularity by examining the relationship between modularity and developmental stability in a multi-segmented arthropod taxon: the geophilomorph centipedes. In a sample of eight species, we tested the correlation between developmental stability, estimated from measures of translational fluctuating asymmetry, and the number of trunk segments and some other morphological traits, both at the species and individual levels. We found sizeable differences in size and shape patterns of variation at the level of species. However, we did not find any clear evidence of correlation between fluctuating asymmetry and the number of trunk segments or the other morphological traits considered. Thus, our results provide no support to the idea of a possible trade-off between the cardinality of a modular system and the level of developmental precision in the phenotypic expression of its modules. The results of this exploratory study invite further investigations of patterns of translational fluctuating asymmetry in segmented animals and other modular organisms, as these have the potential to reveal features of developmental stability that cannot be captured by the study of bilateral asymmetry alone.


Canalization Fluctuating asymmetry Geometric morphometrics Trade-offs 



We thank Lucio Bonato for help with sample choice and for fruitful discussions, Małgorzata Leśniewska for kindly providing S. souletina and S. subterranea specimens and Fig. 1, Diego Maruzzo for the assistance with CLSM, Enrico L. Rezende for precious advice on the pgls analysis, and two anonymous referees for their insightful comments on a previous version of the article. This work has been supported by a grant (CPDA115439/11) from the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) to GF.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoland Savriama
    • 1
  • Marco Vitulo
    • 2
  • Sylvain Gerber
    • 3
    • 4
  • Vincent Debat
    • 4
  • Giuseppe Fusco
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of BiotechnologyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  4. 4.Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité – UMR 7205 – CNRS, UPMC, EPHE, Muséum National d’Histoire NaturelleSorbonne UniversitésParisFrance

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