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Estimating the proportion of offspring attributable to candidate adults

  • Author(s): Fiumera, AC;
  • Dewoody, JA;
  • Asmussen, MA;
  • Avise, JC
  • et al.

Statistical methods for estimating genetic parentage are increasingly applied to accommodate limited marker polymorphism and the incomplete sampling of individuals. Neff et al. (2000a, Mol. Ecol. 9, 515-528; 2000b, Mol. Ecol. 9, 529-539) published a method (Pat) that estimates the proportion of next-generation individuals sired by a focal male, taking into account that the male may be genetically compatible, by random chance, with offspring that are not his own. Here we employ this method to reestimate paternity of 68 nest-guarding males from several fish species. The difference between the conventional exclusion-based estimate and Pat was >0.05 in only four of the 68 (5.9%) fish nests analyzed. An analytical formula shows that the difference between the two estimates is expected to be negligible if the focal male is consistent with a large proportion of the genotyped offspring, or if marker polymorphism is high. In addition, computer simulations illustrate how numbers of marker loci and their levels of genetic polymorphism, as well as the mating system of the organism under study, can influence estimates of paternity derived from exclusion-based estimates and Pat. Finally, we discuss various applications of these estimators including cases where additional biological information is present in the form of behavioral observations on parental care.

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