The influence of nonrandom extra-pair paternity on heritability estimates derived from wild pedigrees

Josh A. Firth, Jarrod D. Hadfield, Anna W. Santure, Jon Slate, Ben C. Sheldon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Quantitative genetic analysis is often fundamental for understanding evolutionary processes in wild populations. Avian populations provide a model system due to the relative ease of inferring relatedness among individuals through observation. However, extra-pair paternity (EPP) creates erroneous links within the social pedigree. Previous work has suggested this causes minor underestimation of heritability if paternal misassignment is random and hence not influenced by the trait being studied. Nevertheless, much literature suggests numerous traits are associated with EPP and the accuracy of heritability estimates for such traits remains unexplored. We show analytically how nonrandom pedigree errors can influence heritability estimates. Then, combining empirical data from a large great tit (Parus major) pedigree with simulations, we assess how heritability estimates derived from social pedigrees change depending on the mode of the relationship between EPP and the focal trait. We show that the magnitude of the underestimation is typically small (<15%). Hence, our analyses suggest that quantitative genetic inference from pedigrees derived from observations of social relationships is relatively robust; our approach also provides a widely applicable method for assessing the consequences of nonrandom EPP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1336-1344
Number of pages9
JournalEvolution: International Journal of Organic Evolution
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Extra-pair copulations
  • Misassigned paternity
  • Pedigree error
  • Pedigree simulation
  • Quantitative genetics
  • SNP


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