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Estimating genetic drift and effective population size from temporal shifts in dominant gene marker frequencies

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Abstract

Measurement of temporal change in allele frequencies represents an indirect method for estimating the genetically effective size of populations. When allele frequencies are estimated for gene markers that display dominant gene expression, such as, e.g. random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers, the estimates can be seriously biased. We quantify bias for previous allele frequency estimators and present a new expression that is generally less biased and provides a more precise assessment of temporal allele frequency change. We further develop an estimator for effective population size that is appropriate when dealing with dominant gene markers. Comparison with estimates based on codominantly expressed genes, such as allozymes or microsatellites, indicates that about twice as many loci or sampled individuals are required when using dominant markers to achieve the same precision.

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