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Inbreeding in Darwin's Medium Ground Finches (Geospiza fortis)

H. Lisle Gibbs and Peter R. Grant
Evolution
Vol. 43, No. 6 (Sep., 1989), pp. 1273-1284
DOI: 10.2307/2409362
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409362
Page Count: 12
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Inbreeding in Darwin's Medium Ground Finches (Geospiza fortis)
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Abstract

We studied the frequency and causes of inbreeding and its effect on reproductive success in a population of Darwin's Medium Ground Finches (Geospiza fortis) on Isla Daphne Major, Galapagos, during four breeding seasons (1981, 1983, 1984, and 1987). Pedigree analysis showed that levels of inbreeding were low but comparable with those observed in other passerine birds. For pairs with at least half of their grandparents known, approximately 20% of all pairings were between detectably related birds. The frequency of pairings between closely related birds (coefficient of kinship [⊘] ≥ 0.250) among all pairs was 0.6%. We detected no effect of inbreeding on reproductive success, although sample sizes were small. The observed reproductive output of related pairs was not significantly different from the output of unrelated pairs, and there was no correlation between a pair's kinship coefficient and an estimate of the potential magnitude of inbreeding depression. Comparisons with a study of Great Tits (Parus major) by van Noordwijk and Scharloo (1981) suggest that, even if present, the fitness costs of inbreeding in this population of G. fortis would be low. Observed levels of inbreeding in each breeding episode were accurately predicted by simulations of random mating in which relatedness had no influence on pairing between individuals. This result suggests that levels of inbreeding in this population are determined more by demographic factors than by behavioral avoidance of mating with kin.

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