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Genetics. 2008 May;179(1):683-92. doi: 10.1534/genetics.107.083816.

Management of subdivided populations in conservation programs: development of a novel dynamic system.

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  • 1Departamento de Mejora Genética, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


Within the context of a conservation program the management of subdivided populations implies a compromise between the control of the global genetic diversity, the avoidance of high inbreeding levels, and, sometimes, the maintenance of a certain degree of differentiation between subpopulations. We present a dynamic and flexible methodology, based on genealogical information, for the maximization of the genetic diversity (measured through the global population coancestry) in captive subdivided populations while controlling/restricting the levels of inbreeding. The method is able to implement specific restrictions on the desired relative levels of coancestry between and within subpopulations. By accounting for the particular genetic population structure, the method determines the optimal contributions (i.e., number of offspring) of each individual, the number of migrants, and the particular subpopulations involved in the exchange of individuals. Computer simulations are used to illustrate the procedure and its performance in a range of reasonable scenarios. The method performs well in most situations and is shown to be more efficient than the commonly accepted one-migrant-per-generation strategy.

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