Loss of Genetic Variability in a Fragmented Continuously Distributed Population

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An individual-based simulation model was used to examine the effect of population sub-division, dispersal distance of offspring, and migration rates between subpopulations on genetic variability (HI Hs and HT) in a continuously distributed population. Some difficulties with mathematical models of a continuously distributed population have been pointed out. The individual-based model can avoid these difficulties and can be used to examine genetic variability in a population within which individuals are distributed continuously and in which the dispersal of individuals is disturbed by geographical or artificial barriers. The present simulation showed that the pattern of decrease in HI had three stages. During the first stage, HI decreased at the rates predicted by Wright's neighborhood size. During the second stage, HI decreased more rapidly when the migration rate decreased, while during the third stage, it decreased less rapidly when the migration rate decreased. Increasing the number of subdivisions increased the rate of decrease after the 200th generation. The pattern of decrease in HT was classified into 2 stages. During the first stage, the rates of decrease corresponded with those of a randomly mating population. During the second stage, a decrease in the migration rates of the subpopulations slowed the rate of decrease in HT. A uniform spatial distribution and a reduced total dispersal distance of offspring caused HI, Hs, and HT to decrease more rapidly. Habitat fragmentation in a continuously distributed population usually was detrimental to the genetic variability in the early generations. Other implications of the results for conservation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-237
Number of pages11
JournalResearches on Population Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Effective population size
  • Fragmentation
  • Genetic variability
  • Heterozygosity
  • Individualbased model
  • Subdivision


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