• Bottleneck;
  • coalescent;
  • importance sampling;
  • invasions;
  • likelihood

A method for estimating the number of founding chromosomes in an isolated population is introduced. The method assumes that n/2 diploid individuals are sampled from a population and that alleles are identified at L unlinked loci. The population is assumed to have been founded T generations in the past by individuals carrying c chromosomes drawn randomly from a known source population, which has also been sampled. If c is small and the population grew rapidly after it was founded, accurate estimates of c can be obtained and those estimates are not sensitive to details of the history of population sizes. If c is larger or the population remained small after it was founded, then estimates of c depend on the history of population sizes. We test the performance of our method on simulated data and demonstrate its use on data from a rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) population.