Modeling problems in conservation genetics using captive Drosophila populations: consequences of equalization of family sizes

Suzanne C. Borlase, David A. Loebel, Richard Frankham*, Roderick K. Nurthen, David A. Briscoe, Grant E. Daggard

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    50 Citations (Scopus)


    Equalization of family sizes is recommended for use in captive breeding programs, as it is predicted to double effective population sizes, reduce inbreeding, and slow the loss of genetic variation. The effects of maintaining small captive populations with equalization of family sizes versus random choice of parents on levels of inbreeding genetic variation, reproductive fitness, and effective population sizes (Ne) were evaluated in 10 lines of each treatment maintained with four pairs of parents per generation. The mean inbreeding coefficient (F) increased at a significantly slower rate with equalization than with random choice (means of 0.35 and 0.44 at generation 10). Average heterozygosities at generation 10, based on six polymorphic enzyme loci, were significantly higher with equalization (0.149) than with random choice (0.085), compared to the generation 0 level of 0.188. The competitive index measure of reproductive fitness at generation 11 was more than twice as high with equalization as with random choice, both being much lower than in the outbred base population. There was considerable variation among replicate lines within treatments in all the above measures and considerable overlap between lines from the two treatments. Estimates of Ne for equalization were greater than those for random choice, whether estimated from changes in average heterozygosities or from changes in F. Equalization of family sizes can be unequivocally recommended for use in the genetic management of captive populations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)122-131
    Number of pages10
    JournalConservation Biology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1993


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