Maintaining genetic variation and minimizing inbreeding are central goals of conservation genetics. It is therefore crucial to understand the important population parameters that affect inbreeding, particularly in reintroduction programs. Using data from 41 reintroduced Alpine ibex (Capra ibex ibex) populations we estimated inbreeding since the beginning of reintroductions using population-specific Fst, and inbreeding over the last few generations with contemporary effective population sizes. Total levels of inbreeding since reintroduction of ibex were, on average, close to that from one generation of half-sib mating. Contemporary effective population sizes did not reflect total inbreeding since reintroduction, but 16% of variation in contemporary effective population sizes among populations was due to variation in current population sizes. Substantial variation in inbreeding levels among populations was explained by founder group sizes and the harmonic mean population sizes since founding. This study emphasizes that, in addition to founder group sizes, early population growth rates are important parameters determining inbreeding levels in reintroduced populations. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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