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Estimation of breed contributions to present and future genetic diversity of 44 North Eurasian cattle breeds using core set diversity measures

  • Jörn Bennewitz1Email author,
  • Juha Kantanen2,
  • Ilma Tapio2,
  • Meng Hua Li2,
  • Ernst Kalm1,
  • Johanna Vilkki2,
  • Innokentyi Ammosov3,
  • Zoya Ivanova4,
  • Tatyana Kiselyova5,
  • Ruslan Popov6 and
  • Theo HE Meuwissen7
Genetics Selection Evolution200638:201

Received: 13 June 2005

Accepted: 26 October 2005

Published: 24 February 2006


Extinction of breeds threatens genetic diversity of livestock species. The need to conserve genetic diversity is widely accepted but involves in general two questions: (i) is the expected loss of diversity in a set of breeds within a defined future time horizon large enough to establish a conservation plan, and if so (ii) which breeds should be prioritised for such a conservation plan? The present study uses a marker assisted methodology to address these questions. The methodology combines core set diversity measures with a stochastic method for the estimation of expected future diversity and breed marginal diversities. The latter is defined as the change in the total diversity of all breeds caused by a one unit decrease in extinction probability of a particular breed. The stochastic method was validated by means of simulations. A large field data set consisting of 44 North Eurasian cattle breeds was analysed using simplified determined extinction probabilities. The results show that the expected loss of diversity in this set within the next 20 to 50 years is between 1 and 3% of the actual diversity, provided that the extinction probabilities which were used are approximately valid. If this loss is to be reduced, it is sufficient to include those three to five breeds with the highest marginal diversity in a conservation scheme.


diversity measuremarginal diversityextinction probabilitycattle breedsgenetic conservation

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Authors’ Affiliations

Institute of Animal Breeding and Husbandry, Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel, Germany
Biotechnology and Food Research, MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Jokioinen, Finland
Batagay-Alyta, Sakha, Russia
Yakut State Agricultural Academy, Yakutsk, Russia
Department of Genetics and Biotechnology, All-Russian Research Institute for Farm Animal Genetics and Breeding, Moskowskoye shosse-55a, Russia
Department of Farm Animals and Breeding, Ministry of Agriculture and Resources of Sakha, Yakutsk, Russia
Institute of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, Agriculture University of Norway, Ås, Norway


© INRA, EDP Sciences 2006