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Estimates of direct and indirect effects for early juvenile survival in captive populations maintained for conservation purposes: the case of Cuvier’s gazelle

AuthorsIbáñez, Belén ; Cervantes, Isabel; Gutiérrez, Juan P.; Goyache, Félix; Moreno, Eulalia
parental effects
Cuvier gazelle
Issue Date5-Nov-2014
AbstractTogether with the avoidance of any negative impact of inbreeding, preservation of genetic variability for life-history traits that could undergo future selective pressure is a major issue in endangered species management programmes. However, most of these programmes ignore that, apart from the direct action of genes on such traits, parents, as contributors of offspring environment, can influence offspring performance through indirect parental effects (when parental genotype and phenotype exerts environmental influences on offspring phenotype independently of additive genetic effects). Using quantitative genetic models, we estimated the additive genetic variance for juvenile survival in a population of the endangered Cuvier’s gazelle kept in captivity since 1975. The dataset analyzed included performance recording for 700 calves and a total pedigree of 740 individuals. Results indicated that in this population juvenile survival harbors significant additive genetic variance. The estimates of heritability obtained were in general moderate (0.115–0.457) and not affected by the inclusion of inbreeding in the models. Maternal genetic contribution to juvenile survival seems to be of major importance in this gazelle’s population as well. Indirect genetic and indirect environmental effects assigned to mothers (i.e., maternal genetic and maternal permanent environmental effects) roughly explain a quarter of the total variance estimated for the trait analyzed. These findings have major evolutionary consequences for the species as show that offspring phenotypes can evolve strictly through changes in the environment provided by mothers. They are also relevant for the captive breeding programme of the species. To take into account, the contribution that mothers have on offspring phenotype through indirect genetic effects when designing pairing strategies might serve to identify those females with better ability to recruit, and, additionally, to predict reliable responses to selection in the captive population.
Publisher version (URL)http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.1280/abstract
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