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Problems with Testing Inbreeding Avoidance: The Case of the Collared Flycatcher
Vol. 50, No. 4 (Aug., 1996), pp. 1625-1630
Published by: Society for the Study of Evolution
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410898
Page Count: 6
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Four year's data on collared flycatchers, Ficedula albicollis, breeding in a nestbox plot on the island of Gotland, Sweden, was used to investigate whether individuals avoid mating with close kin (i.e., parents or sibs). Only one case of close inbreeding (0.5% of all pairs) was observed during the years of study. The observed frequency of close inbreeding was compared to expected frequencies based on two different null models. Assuming no inbreeding avoidance behaviors (e.g., dispersal or kin recognition), but taking into account the fact that mortality, and different arrival and pairing times of individuals reduce the probability of mating with close kin, the expected frequency of close inbreeding is 10% and 15% for female and male recruits (i.e., born in the study plot), respectively. However, assuming mating to be random within the study plot reduced the expected frequency of close inbreeding to 1% or less for both males and females. Consequently, conclusions drawn concerning inbreeding avoidance depend on the null model used. Contrasting estimated costs of tolerating close inbreeding with those of avoiding it (by dispersal to other plots), however, suggests that the costs of avoiding close inbreeding are substantially greater than those of tolerating it. Therefore, although inbreeding avoidance cannot be rejected as a cause of dispersal of this species, it is not the primary cause, and particularly not for sex-biased dispersal. The general problems of investigating inbreeding avoidance are discussed. It is argued that all previous null models based on random mating in finite populations produce expected frequencies of close inbreeding that in fact include inbreeding avoidance, since they Implicitly assume random dispersal within a finite population. Thus, comparisons between observed and expected frequencies of close inbreeding based on random mating are inadequate. The most promising method of investigating inbreeding avoidance is to experimentally study individual movements and mating preferences in the presence and absence of close kin.
Evolution © 1996 Society for the Study of Evolution