Article: article from journal or magazin.
Testing demographic models of effective population size.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B Biological Sciences
Due to practical difficulties in obtaining direct genetic estimates of effective sizes, conservation biologists have to rely on so-called 'demographic models' which combine life-history and mating-system parameters with F-statistics in order to produce indirect estimates of effective sizes. However, for the same practical reasons that prevent direct genetic estimates, the accuracy of demographic models is difficult to evaluate. Here we use individual-based, genetically explicit computer simulations in order to investigate the accuracy of two such demographic models aimed at investigating the hierarchical structure of populations. We show that, by and large, these models provide good estimates under a wide range of mating systems and dispersal patterns. However, one of the models should be avoided whenever the focal species' breeding system approaches monogamy with no sex bias in dispersal or when a substructure within social groups is suspected because effective sizes may then be strongly overestimated. The timing during the life cycle at which F-statistics are evaluated is also of crucial importance and attention should be paid to it when designing field sampling since different demographic models assume different timings. Our study shows that individual-based, genetically explicit models provide a promising way of evaluating the accuracy of demographic models of effective size and delineate their field of applicability.
Alleles, Animals, Demography, Female, Genetic Variation, Male, Models, Genetic, Population Density, Sex Characteristics, Sexual Behavior, Social Behavior
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