The influence of neighborhood size and habitat shape on the accumulation of deleterious mutations

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Abstract

To examine the impact of genetic neighborhood size and habitat shape on genetic load and the accumulation of deleterious mutation, individual-based simulations were performed in continuously distributed habitats. The risk of extinction increased as both the area of the habitat and the neighborhood size decreased. When the neighborhood area became smaller than the habitat area, habitat shape also began to influence the risk of extinction by mutation loads, expected time to extinction being shorter in longer and narrower habitats than in a square habitat. Both the number of homozygous deleterious loci per individual and the mutation load in the population increased as the neighborhood size and total population size decreased. Neighborhood size and total population size both independently affected the average number of homozygous deleterious loci per individual. In addition, as the ratio of the long to the short side of the rectangle of a habitat increased, the average number of homozygous deleterious loci increased. When the areas of the habitats were held constant, the average number of homozygous loci and the mutation loads were smallest for a regular square and largest for the longest, narrowest habitat. These results suggest that the spatial genetic structure of an individual is an important factor in the accumulation of deleterious mutations and the risk of extinction by mutation meltdown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-199
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Volume211
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Aug 7

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics

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