Evidence of an Absence of Inbreeding Depression in a Wild Population of Weddell Seals (Leptonychotes weddellii)


Inbreeding depression can reduce the viability of wild populations. Detecting inbreeding depression in the wild is difficult; developing accurate estimates of inbreeding can be time and labor intensive. In this study, we used a two-step modeling procedure to incorporate uncertainty inherent in estimating individual inbreeding coefficients from multilocus genotypes into estimates of inbreeding depression in a population of Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii). The two-step modeling procedure presented in this paper provides a method for estimating the magnitude of a known source of error, which is assumed absent in classic regression models, and incorporating this error into inferences about inbreeding depression. The method is essentially an errors-in-variables regression with non-normal errors in both the dependent and independent variables. These models, therefore, allow for a better evaluation of the uncertainty surrounding the biological importance of inbreeding depression in non-pedigreed wild populations. For this study we genotyped 154 adult female seals from the population in Erebus Bay, Antarctica, at 29 microsatellite loci, 12 of which are novel. We used a statistical evidence approach to inference rather than hypothesis testing because the discovery of both low and high levels of inbreeding are of scientific interest. We found evidence for an absence of inbreeding depression in lifetime reproductive success, adult survival, age at maturity, and the reproductive interval of female seals in this population.



data cloning, microsatellites, individual inbreeding coefficient, lifetime reproductive succes, statistical evidence, information criteria


Powell JH, Kalinowski ST, Taper ML, Rotella JJ, Davis CS, Garrott RA. Evidence of an Absence of Inbreeding Depression in a Wild Population of Weddell Seals (Leptonychotes weddellii). Entropy. 2023; 25(3):403. https://doi.org/10.3390/e25030403
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