Modeling problems in conservation genetics using captive Drosophila populations: Consequences of equalizing founder representation

David A. Loebel, Roderick K. Nurthen, Richard Frankham*, David A. Briscoe, Duncan Craven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Equalizing founder representation is a recommended practice for maintaining captive populations. However, this procedure has not been subject to controlled experimental evaluation. The effects on inbreeding, genetic variation, and reproductive fitness of maintaining small captive populations by equalizing founder representation (EFR) versus randomly choosing parents (RC) were compared. Ten replicate lines were created with unequal founder representations, split into EFR and RC lines, and maintained for a further eight generations. Founder representations computed from pedigrees were closer to equality in the EFR lines than in the RC lines or the base population, most of the changes being evident after one generation. Significant benefits of EFR were found in lowered inbreeding (mean inbreeding coefficients of 0.35 and 0.41, respectively, for EFR and RC lines) and average heterozygosity (0.141 for EFR, 0.084 for RC, compared with 0.216 in the base population). However, EFR was not significantly better than RC in moving allele frequencies towards equalized founder representation. No significant difference was found in reproductive fitness between EFR and RC (relative fitnesses compared to the base population were 0.179 for EFR and 0.182 for RC). The use of equalization of founder representation for a few generations can be recommended in the genetic management of captive populations derived from a small number of founders that contribute unequally. © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-332
Number of pages14
JournalZoo Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1992


  • captive breeding
  • founder equivalents
  • genetic variation
  • inbreeding
  • reproductive fitness

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling problems in conservation genetics using captive Drosophila populations: Consequences of equalizing founder representation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this