Inbreeding depression influences lifetime breeding success in a wild population of red deer (Cervus elaphus)

J Slate, L E B Kruuk, T C Marshall, J M Pemberton, T H Clutton-Brock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Evolutionary and conservation biologists have a long-standing interest in the consequences of inbreeding It is generally recognized that inbred individuals may experience reduced fitness or inbreeding depression. By the same token, relatively outbred individuals can have greater than average fitness, i.e. heterosis. However nearly all of the empirical evidence for inbreeding depression comes from laboratory or domestic species. Inbreeding depression and heterosis are difficult to detect in natural populations due to the difficulties in establishing pedigrees. An alternative method is to correlate heterozygosity, which is measured using genetic markers, with a trait related to fitness. The typically studied traits, such as juvenile survival and growth rates, either cover only early life or are weakly correlated with lifetime breeding success (LBS). In this paper we show: that heterozygosity is positively associated with male and female adult LBS in a wild population of red deer (Cervus elaphus) on the Isle of Rum, Scotland. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first time that inbreeding depression and/or heterosis have been detected for a trail highly correlated with overall fitness in both sexes in a wild population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1657-1662
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Issue number1453
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2000

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • mean d2
  • microsatellite
  • lifetime reproductive success
  • dominance variance
  • natural population


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