Purging inbreeding depression and the probability of extinction: Full-sib mating

P. W. Hedrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

303 Scopus citations


Inbreeding depression has been a topic of interest in recent years from a number of perspectives, particularly in the captive breeding of endangered species. Generally, the goal of captive breeding is to avoid the detrimental effects of inbreeding depression and to retain genetic variation for future adaptation. However, an important component of another suggested approach to captive breeding is to purge rapidly the population of its genetic load so that its long-term fitness is not compromised. I have examined the effectiveness of purging the genetic load by documenting both the reduction in inbreeding depression and the increase of the probability of extinction when there is continous full- sib mating. When the genetic load is the result of lethals, the inbreeding depression is quickly purged without a high probability of extinction, except when the total genetic load is high. On the other hand, if the load is due to detrimentals of relatively small effect, the genetic load becomes fixed, the mean fitness is reduced, and the probability of extinction may be greatly increased. In other words, the success of such a programme to purge genetic load without an increase in the probability of extinction is highly dependent, upon the genetic basis of inbreeding depression, information that is not readily available for most species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-372
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1994


  • Captive breeding
  • Full-sib mating
  • Genetic load
  • Inbreeding depression
  • Lethals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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