Mutation load and the survival of small populations

M. Lynch, W. Gabriel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

374 Scopus citations


Previous attempts to model the joint action of selection and mutation in finite populations have treated population size as being independent of the mutation load. However, the accumulation of deleterious mutations is expected to cause a gradual reduction in population size. Consequently, in small populations random genetic drift will progressively overpower selection making it easier to fix future mutations. This synergistic interaction ultimately leads to population extinction. The model also predicts that clonal lineages are unlikely to survive more than 104 to 105 generations, which is consistent with existing data on parthenogenetic animals. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1725-1737
Number of pages13
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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