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Genetic parentage in large half-sib clutches: theoretical estimates and empirical appraisals.


Nearly all of the 906 embryos from a male-tended nest of the sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus) were genotyped at two hypervariable microsatellite loci to document conclusively the number of mothers and their relative genetic contributions to the nest. The true number of mothers determined by this nearly exhaustive genetic appraisal was compared to computer simulation treatments based on allele frequencies in the population, assumptions about reproductive skew, and statistical sampling strategies of progeny subsets. The "ground-truthed" appraisal and the theoretical estimates showed good agreement, indicating that for this nest a random sample of approximately 20 offspring would have sufficed for assessing the true number of biological parents (but not necessarily their relative genetic contributions). Also, a general dilocus matrix procedure is suggested for organizing and interpreting otherwise cumbersome data sets when extremely large numbers of full-sib and half-sib embryos from a nest are genotyped at two or more hypervariable loci.

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