INBREEDING INFLUENCES WITHIN-BROOD HETEROZYGOSITY-FITNESS CORRELATIONS (HFCS) IN AN ISOLATED PASSERINE POPULATION

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Abstract

Molecular estimates of inbreeding may be made using genetic markers such as microsatellites, however the interpretation of resulting heterozygosity-fitness correlations (HFCs) with respect to inbreeding depression is not straightforward. We investigated the relationship between pedigree-determined inbreeding coefficients (f) and HFCs in a closely monitored, reintroduced population of Stewart Island robins (Petroica australis rakiura) on Ulva Island, New Zealand. Using a full sibling design, we focused on differences in juvenile survival associated specifically with individual sibling variation in standardized multilocus heterozygosity (SH) when expected f was identical. We found that within broods, siblings with higher SH at microsatellite loci experienced a higher probability of juvenile survival. This effect, however, was detected primarily within broods that experienced inbreeding or when inbreeding had occurred in their pedigree histories (i.e., at the parents’ level). Thus we show, for the first time in a wild population, that the strength of an HFC is partially dependent on the presence of inbreeding events in the recent pedigree history. Our results illustrate the importance of realized effects of inbreeding on genetic variation and fitness and the value of full-sibling designs for the study of HFCs in the context of small, inbred populations.

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