Inferring recent migration rates from individual genotypes


Thomas Broquet, Fax: +41 21 692 41 65; E-mail:


We present a novel and straightforward method for estimating recent migration rates between discrete populations using multilocus genotype data. The approach builds upon a two-step sampling design, where individual genotypes are sampled before and after dispersal. We develop a model that estimates all pairwise backwards migration rates (mij, the probability that an individual sampled in population i is a migrant from population j) between a set of populations. The method is validated with simulated data and compared with the methods of BayesAss and Structure. First, we use data for an island model and then we consider more realistic data simulations for a metapopulation of the greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula). We show that the precision and bias of estimates primarily depend upon the proportion of individuals sampled in each population. Weak sampling designs may particularly affect the quality of the coverage provided by 95% highest posterior density intervals. We further show that it is relatively insensitive to the number of loci sampled and the overall strength of genetic structure. The method can easily be extended and makes fewer assumptions about the underlying demographic and genetic processes than currently available methods. It allows backwards migration rates to be estimated across a wide range of realistic conditions.