• genetic diversity;
  • hybrid vigour;
  • immigration;
  • inbreeding depression;
  • rare-male effect

This study examined the genetic contribution of single male immigrants to small, inbred laboratory populations of Drosophila melanogaster. Genetic contribution was assessed by measuring the relative frequency of immigrant marker alleles in the first and second generations after immigration, while controlling for any selection effects at the marker locus, and for the experience of male immigrants. When immigrants were outbred, the mean frequency of the immigrant allele was significantly higher than its initial frequency, in both the first and second generations after immigration. There was no significant change in allele frequency for populations receiving inbred immigrants. The increase in allele frequency for outbred immigrants was attributed to an initial outbred vigour fitness advantage of immigrant males over resident males experiencing inbreeding depression. Hybrid vigour of immigrant progeny and the rare-male effect did not have a statistically significant role in the fitness advantage of the immigrant allele. The results suggest that inbreeding may have a considerable impact on the contribution of immigrants to the genetic diversity of populations.