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Effects of recent population bottlenecks on reconstructing the demographic history of prairie-chickens



    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA,
    2. Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, 1109 Geddes Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA and The Peregrine Fund, 5668 West Flying Hawk Lane, Boise, ID 83709, USA,
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    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA,
    Search for more papers by this author

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Bowling Green State University, Life Sciences Building, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA
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Jeff A. Johnson, Fax: 734 763 4080; E-mail:


Current methods of DNA sequence analysis attempt to reconstruct historical patterns of population structure and growth from contemporary samples. However, these techniques may be influenced by recent population bottlenecks, which have the potential to eliminate lineages that reveal past changes in demography. One way to examine the performance of these demographic methods is to compare samples from populations before and after recent bottlenecks. We compared estimates of demographic history from populations of greater prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) before and after recent bottlenecks using four common methods (nested clade analysis [NCA], Tajima's D, mismatch distribution, and mdiv). We found that NCA did not perform well in the presence of bottleneck events, although it did recover some genetic signals associated with increased isolation and the extinction of intermediate populations. The majority of estimates for Tajima's D, including those from bottlenecked populations, were not significantly different from zero, suggesting our data conformed to neutral expectations. In contrast, mismatch distributions including the raggedness index were more likely to identify recently bottlenecked populations with this data set. Estimates of population mutation rate (θ), population divergence time (t), and time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) from mdiv were similar before and after bottlenecks; however, estimates of gene flow (M) were significantly lower in a few cases following a bottleneck. These results suggest that caution should be used when assessing demographic history from contemporary data sets, as recently fragmented and bottlenecked populations may have lost lineages that affect inferences of their demographic history.

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