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Heterozygosity-fitness correlations and inbreeding depression in two critically endangered mammals

AuthorsRuiz-López, María José; Gañán, Natalia ; Godoy, José A. ; Olmo, Ana del; Garde, José Julián ; Espeso, Gerardo ; Roldán, Eduardo R. S. ; Gomendio, Montserrat
Issue DateDec-2012
PublisherBlackwell Publishing
CitationConservation Biology 26(6): 1121-1129 (2012)
AbstractThe relation among inbreeding, heterozygosity, and fitness has been studied primarily among outbred populations, and little is known about these phenomena in endangered populations. Most researchers conclude that the relation between coefficient of inbreeding estimated from pedigrees and fitness traits (inbreeding-fitness correlations) better reflects inbreeding depression than the relation between marker heterozygosity and fitness traits (heterozygosity-fitness correlations). However, it has been suggested recently that heterozygosity-fitness correlations should only be expected when inbreeding generates extensive identity disequilibrium (correlations in heterozygosity and homozygosity across loci throughout the genome). We tested this hypothesis in Mohor gazelle (Gazella dama mhorr) and Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). For Mohor gazelle, we calculated the inbreeding coefficient and measured heterozygosity at 17 microsatellite loci. For Iberian lynx, we measured heterozygosity at 36 microsatellite loci. In both species we estimated semen quality, a phenotypic trait directly related to fitness that is controlled by many loci and is affected by inbreeding depression. Both species showed evidence of extensive identity disequilibrium, and in both species heterozygosity was associated with semen quality. In the Iberian lynx the low proportion of normal sperm associated with low levels of heterozygosity was so extreme that it is likely to limit the fertility of males. In Mohor gazelle, although heterozygosity was associated with semen quality, inbreeding coefficient was not. This result suggests that when coefficient of inbreeding is calculated on the basis of a genealogy that begins after a long history of inbreeding, the coefficient of inbreeding fails to capture previous demographic information because it is a poor estimator of accumulated individual inbreeding. We conclude that among highly endangered species with extensive identity disequilibrium, examination of heterozygosity-fitness correlations may be an effective way to detect inbreeding depression, whereas inbreeding-fitness correlations may be poor indicators of inbreeding depression if the pedigree does not accurately reflect the history of inbreeding.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01916.x
Identifiersissn: 0888-8892
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