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Journal Articles Animal Conservation Year : 2022

The necessity of considering founder kinships in conservation breeding programs


Conservation breeding programs pursue the double objective of preserving genetic diversity and producing individuals to support in situ conservation measures. Genetic management and monitoring are commonly based on pedigree analyses and are therefore dependent on the pedigree quality and the underlying assumption that founders of the captive population are neither inbred nor related to each other or to the captive population. Should founders be related, this assumption may lead to an overestimation of genetic diversity and an underestimation of inbreeding in captivity. In this study, we examined the effects of the founder assumption on estimates of genetic diversity by combining three approaches: (1) computer simulations of pedigrees of theoretical captive populations and their associated in situ source populations, (2) analysis of pedigrees of real conservation breeding programs and (3) microsatellite-based computation of kinship among founders from a captive population of houbara bustard. The theoretical approach revealed that the captive population's average mean kinship Mk increases linearly with founder average Mk. The bias in Mk due to the founder assumption was strongly related to the effective size of the source population and to pedigree quality while remaining critical after 25 generations of captivity. Results based on real populations were consistent with theoretical ones and confirmed the overestimation of genetic diversity in captive populations. Overall, our results indicate that under situations classically encountered in conservation breeding programs (e.g. small and isolated source population, incomplete pedigrees), estimates of genetic diversity are potentially highly overestimated, challenging the genetic management of captive populations of species of conservation concern.
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Dates and versions

mnhn-03766578 , version 1 (01-09-2022)



R. Rabier, A. Erlichman, L. Lesobre, A. Robert. The necessity of considering founder kinships in conservation breeding programs. Animal Conservation, 2022, ⟨10.1111/acv.12779⟩. ⟨mnhn-03766578⟩
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