Metapopulation extinction caused by mutation accumulation

K. Higgins, M. Lynch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


Theory suggests that the risk of extinction by mutation accumulation can be comparable to that by environmental stochasticity for an isolated population smaller than a few thousand individuals. Here we show that metapopulation structure, habitat loss or fragmentation, and environmental stochasticity can be expected to greatly accelerate the accumulation of mildly deleterious mutations, lowering the genetic effective size to such a degree that even large metapopulations may be at risk of extinction. Because of mutation accumulation, viable metapopulations may need to be far larger and better connected than would be required under just stochastic demography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2928-2933
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 27 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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