Skip to main content

Data from: The efficiency of close inbreeding to reduce genetic adaptation to captivity

Cite this dataset

Theodorou, Konstantinos; Couvet, Denis (2014). Data from: The efficiency of close inbreeding to reduce genetic adaptation to captivity [Dataset]. Dryad.


Although ex situ conservation is indispensable for thousands of species, captive breeding is associated with negative genetic changes: loss of genetic variance and genetic adaptation to captivity that is deleterious in the wild. We used quantitative genetic individual-based simulations to model the effect of genetic management on the evolution of a quantitative trait and the associated fitness of wild-born individuals that are brought to captivity. We also examined the feasibility of the breeding strategies under a scenario of a large number of loci subject to deleterious mutations. We compared two breeding strategies: repeated half-sib mating and a method of minimizing mean coancestry (referred to as gc/mc). Our major finding was that half-sib mating is more effective in reducing genetic adaptation to captivity than the gc/mc method. Moreover, half-sib mating retains larger allelic and adaptive genetic variance. Relative to initial standing variation, the additive variance of the quantitative trait increased under half-sib mating during the sojourn in captivity. Although fragmentation into smaller populations improves the efficiency of the gc/mc method, half-sib mating still performs better in the scenarios tested. Half-sib mating shows two caveats that could mitigate its beneficial effects: low heterozygosity and high risk of extinction when populations are of low fecundity and size and one of the following conditions are met: (i) the strength of selection in captivity is comparable with that in the wild, (ii) deleterious mutations are numerous and only slightly deleterious. Experimental validation of half-sib mating is therefore needed for the advancement of captive breeding programs.

Usage notes