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Keywords:

  • effective population size;
  • mating system;
  • Neotoma;
  • reproductive success;
  • woodrat

Abstract

Discrepancies between the census size and the genetically effective size of populations (Ne) can be caused by a number of behavioural and demographic factors operating within populations. Specifically, strong skew in male reproductive success, as would be expected in a polygynous mating system, could cause a substantial decrease in Ne relative to census size. Because the mating system of Neotoma macrotis had previously been described as one nearing harem polygyny, I examined the distribution of reproductive success and genetic variation within a population of this species. Combining genetic data and three years of field observations, I show that variance in reproductive success does not deviate from poisson expectations within either sex and variance in success is similar between the sexes. Furthermore, both males and females had multiple partners across litters in addition to some evidence of multiple paternity within litters. Despite a lack of strong skew in reproductive success, an estimate of Ne based on a number of demographic parameters suggests that the ratio of Ne/N in this population is 0.48. Although the ratio of Ne/N suggests that the population is experiencing higher rates of genetic drift than would be expected based on census size alone, the population maintains high levels of genetic diversity. Estimates of neighbourhood size and patterns of recruitment to the study site suggest that immigration plays an important role in this population and may contribute to the maintenance of high levels of genetic diversity.