Protein variation, fitness, and captive propagation

Philip W. Hedrick, Peter F. Brussard, Fred W. Allendorf, John A. Beardmore, Steven Orzack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


We examine the possibility of utilizing protein variation (allozymes) as a tool in the preservation and breeding of endangered and captive species. We believe that allozymes provide estimates of the relative amounts of genetic variation within and among populations. However, because of the difficulties encountered in evaluating both heterozygosity and fitness, we conclude that estimates of individual heterozygosity derived from allozyme studies are poor criteria for selecting individuals for breeding in captive propagation schemes. Furthermore, breeding plans designed to maintain rare allozymes in captive populations represent an unwise strategy for the propagation of most rare and endangered animal species. We believe that successful reintroduction is most likely when genetic variation is preserved as found in natural populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-99
Number of pages9
JournalZoo Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1986


  • allozymes
  • heterozygosity
  • management
  • rare alleles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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