Open Access

Bayesian estimation in animal breeding using the Dirichlet process prior for correlated random effects

  • Abraham van der Merwe1Email author and
  • Albertus Lodewikus Pretorius1
Genetics Selection Evolution200335:137

Received: 12 July 2001

Accepted: 23 August 2002

Published: 15 March 2003


In the case of the mixed linear model the random effects are usually assumed to be normally distributed in both the Bayesian and classical frameworks. In this paper, the Dirichlet process prior was used to provide nonparametric Bayesian estimates for correlated random effects. This goal was achieved by providing a Gibbs sampler algorithm that allows these correlated random effects to have a nonparametric prior distribution. A sampling based method is illustrated. This method which is employed by transforming the genetic covariance matrix to an identity matrix so that the random effects are uncorrelated, is an extension of the theory and the results of previous researchers. Also by using Gibbs sampling and data augmentation a simulation procedure was derived for estimating the precision parameter M associated with the Dirichlet process prior. All needed conditional posterior distributions are given. To illustrate the application, data from the Elsenburg Dormer sheep stud were analysed. A total of 3325 weaning weight records from the progeny of 101 sires were used.


Bayesian methods mixed linear model Dirichlet process prior correlated random effects Gibbs sampler

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Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Mathematical Statistics, Faculty of Science, University of the Free State


© INRA, EDP Sciences 2003