Statistical confidence in parentage analysis with incomplete sampling: how many loci and offspring are needed?


Bryan D. Neff. Fax: 416-978-8532;


We have recently presented models to estimate parentage in breeding systems with multiple mating and incomplete sampling of the candidate parents. Here we provide formulas to calculate the statistical confidence and the optimal trade-off between the number of loci and offspring. These calculations allow an understanding of the statistical significance of the parentage estimates as well as the appropriate sampling regime required to obtain a desired level of confidence. We show that the trade-off generally depends on the parentage of the putative parents. When parentage is low, sampling effort should concentrate on increasing the number of loci. Otherwise, there are similar benefits from increasing the number of loci or offspring. We demonstrate these methods using genetic data from a nest of the bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus).