Minimizing kinship in captive breeding programs

Margaret E. Montgomery, Jonathan D. Ballou, Roderick K. Nurthen, Phillip R. England, David A. Briscoe, Richard Frankham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

91 Citations (Scopus)


Captive populations of endangered species are managed to preserve genetic diversity and retain reproductive fitness. Minimizing kinship (MK) has been predicted to maximize the retention of gene diversity in pedigreed populations with unequal founder representation. MK was compared with maximum avoidance of inbreeding (MAI) and random choice of parents (RAND) using Drosophila melanogaster. Forty replicate populations of each treatment were initiated with unequal founder representation and managed for four generations. MK retained significantly more gene diversity and allelic diversity based on six microsatellite loci and seven allozyme loci than MAI or RAND. Reproductive fitness under both benign and competitive conditions did not differ significantly among treatments. Of the methods considered, MK is currently the best available for the genetic management of captive populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-389
Number of pages13
JournalZoo Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • genetic diversity
  • heterozygosity
  • inbreeding
  • mean kinship
  • reproductive fitness

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