The mating system and gene dynamics of plateau pikas

F. Stephen Dobson, Andrew T. Smith, Wang Xue Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Evolutionary theory suggests that mating systems should have substantial effects on gene dynamics of local populations. In polygynous species, local 'breeding groups' may produce significant genetic structure, due to genetic differences among groups, and rate of loss of genetic variation from such populations may be considerably slowed. We examined possible influences of the variable mating system and family group structure on genetic properties of a population of plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae). Pika gene dynamics were examined via F-statistics and effective population sizes (N(e)), calculated from genetic correlations within and among individuals and families. Genetic correlations were estimated from mating patterns, population demography, and dispersal patterns. Substantial genetic structure within the population was indicated by a strongly positive F(LS). Genetic influence of natal dispersal out of pika families was indicated by a strongly negative inbreeding statistic (F(IL)=-0.34). Effective size of the population was not greatly different from the census population, whereas a traditional estimate of effective size of the population was much lower, indicating that the family structure of the pikas results in a slowed loss of genetic variation over time. Thus, even though mating patterns of plateau pikas were variable, family structure had a strong influence on pika gene dynamics. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioural processes
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Oct 5 2000


  • Breeding groups
  • Gene dynamics
  • Inbreeding
  • Mating systems
  • Pikas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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