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Familial versus mass selection in small populations

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Abstract

We used diffusion approximations and a Markov-chain approach to investigate the consequences of familial selection on the viability of small populations both in the short and in the long term. The outcome of familial selection was compared to the case of a random mating population under mass selection. In small populations, the higher effective size, associated with familial selection, resulted in higher fitness for slightly deleterious and/or highly recessive alleles. Conversely, because familial selection leads to a lower rate of directional selection, a lower fitness was observed for more detrimental genes that are not highly recessive, and with high population sizes. However, in the long term, genetic load was almost identical for both mass and familial selection for populations of up to 200 individuals. In terms of mean time to extinction, familial selection did not have any negative effect at least for small populations (N ≤ 50). Overall, familial selection could be proposed for use in management programs of small populations since it increases genetic variability and short-term viability without impairing the overall persistence times.

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Correspondence to Denis Couvet.

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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Theodorou, K., Couvet, D. Familial versus mass selection in small populations. Genet Sel Evol 35, 425 (2003) doi:10.1186/1297-9686-35-5-425

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Keywords

  • familial selection
  • deleterious mutation
  • genetic load
  • extinction
  • genetic variation