The Variance in Genetic Diversity Among Subpopulations is More Sensitive to Founder Effects and Bottlenecks Than is the Mean: A Case Study

  • P. M. Brakefield


There are three widely-recognised effects of genetic drift on polymorphic traits which are associated with ‘bottlenecks’ or ‘founder events’ in populations. Rare alleles are expected to be lost, average heterozygosity to decline, and the variance among populations to increase. The theoretical work is summarized in Nei (1987). These effects have been documented many times in laboratory populations (e.g. Buri, 1956; Dobzhansky and Pavlovsky, 1957; Rich, Bell and Wilson, 1979; Wool, 1987). Information from natural populations is less extensive and has often involved allozyme variation, especially on islands or in newly-colonized mainland areas(e.g. Janson, 1987; Black et al., 1988; work cited in Wool, 1987). Most studies have, however, tended to concentrate either on the description of the loss of heterozygosity or rare alleles within populations, or on the increase in differentiation among populations. Moreover, many studies involving polymorphic enzyme loci tend to be based on comparatively small samples so that there is uncertainty about whether rare alleles are present or not in populations thought to have experienced genetic drift.


Genetic Drift Founder Event Small Island Rare Allele Large Island 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. M. Brakefield
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Evolutionary Biology, Department of Population BiologyUniversity of LeidenLeidenThe Netherlands

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