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Genetics. Jul 1981; 98(3): 625–640.
PMCID: PMC1214463

Genetic Drift and Estimation of Effective Population Size


The statistical properties of the standardized variance of gene frequency changes (a quantity equivalent to Wright's inbreeding coefficient) in a random mating population are studied, and new formulae for estimating the effective population size are developed. The accuracy of the formulae depends on the ratio of sample size to effective size, the number of generations involved (t), and the number of loci or alleles used. It is shown that the standardized variance approximately follows the χ2 distribution unless t is very large, and the confidence interval of the estimate of effective size can be obtained by using this property. Application of the formulae to data from an isolated population of Dacus oleae has shown that the effective size of this population is about one tenth of the minimum census size, though there was a possibility that the procedure of sampling genes was improper.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Hill WG. A note on effective population size with overlapping generations. Genetics. 1979 May;92(1):317–322. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Pamilo P, Varvio-Aho SL. On the estimation of population size from allele frequency changes. Genetics. 1980 Aug;95(4):1055–1057. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Prout T. Genetic Drift in Irradiated Experimental Populations of Drosophila Melanogaster. Genetics. 1954 Jul;39(4):529–545. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Schaffer HE, Yardley D, Anderson WW. Drift or Selection: A Statistical Test of Gene Frequency Variation over Generations. Genetics. 1977 Oct;87(2):371–379. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
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  • Wilson SR. Analyzing gene-frequency data when the effective population size is finite. Genetics. 1980 Jun;95(2):489–502. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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