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Keywords:

  • heterozygosity;
  • heterozygosity-fitness correlation;
  • inbreeding;
  • inbreeding depression;
  • microsatellites;
  • New Zealand;
  • pedigree;
  • Petroica australis

Abstract

Individual-based estimates of the degree of inbreeding or parental relatedness from pedigrees provide a critical starting point for studies of inbreeding depression, but in practice wild pedigrees are difficult to obtain. Because inbreeding increases the proportion of genomewide loci that are identical by descent, inbreeding variation within populations has the potential to generate observable correlations between heterozygosity measured using molecular markers and a variety of fitness related traits. Termed heterozygosity-fitness correlations (HFCs), these correlations have been observed in a wide variety of taxa. The difficulty of obtaining wild pedigree data, however, means that empirical investigations of how pedigree inbreeding influences HFCs are rare. Here, we assess evidence for inbreeding depression in three life-history traits (hatching and fledging success and juvenile survival) in an isolated population of Stewart Island robins using both pedigree- and molecular-derived measures of relatedness. We found results from the two measures were highly correlated and supported evidence for significant but weak inbreeding depression. However, standardized effect sizes for inbreeding depression based on the pedigree-based kin coefficients (k) were greater and had smaller standard errors than those based on molecular genetic measures of relatedness (RI), particularly for hatching and fledging success. Nevertheless, the results presented here support the use of molecular-based measures of relatedness in bottlenecked populations when information regarding inbreeding depression is desired but pedigree data on relatedness are unavailable.