Estimates of Lethal Equivalents and the Cost of Inbreeding in Mammals

by Katherine Ralls, Jonathan D. Ballou, Alan Templeton
Conservation Biology ()


The costs of inbreeding in naturalpopulations of mammals are unknown despite their theoretical importance in genetic and sociobiological models and practical appli- cations in conservation biology. A major cost of inbreeding is the reduced survival of inbredyoung. We estimate this cost from the regression of juvenile survival on the inbreeding coefficient using pedigrees of 40 captive mammalian popu- lations belonging to 38 species. The number of lethal equivalents ranged from -1.4 to 30.3, with a mean of 4.6 and a median of 3.1. There was no significant difference between populations founded with wild-caught individuals, a mixture of wild-caught and cap- tive-born individuals, and individuals of unknown origin. The average cost of a parent-offspring orfull sibling mating was 0.33, that is, mortality was 33% higher in offspring of such matings than in offspring of unrelated parents. This is likely to be an underestimat

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