Inbreeding in the field: an experiment on root vole populations

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Abstract:

We used a field experiment with replicate populations of a particular geographic race of root voles (Microtus oeconomus) with different degrees of inbreeding to test whether inbreeding effects were expressed in demographic parameters. This geographic race had been shown to exhibit reduced reproductive rates in the laboratory resulting from inbreeding depression. There were no effects of inbreeding on population growth rate or any demographic parameter. Inbred animals grew less than outbred animals early in the summer, but this had no demographic consequences. Our study is one of the few to compare the performance of the same species in the laboratory and in the field with respect to the extent of inbreeding depression. More such comparisons will be needed to determine whether inbreeding is detrimental more often in the field than in the laboratory.

Nous avons procédé à des expériences parallèles en nature sur des Campagnols nordiques (Microtus oeconomus) d'une race géographique particulière qui comporte divers degrés de consanguinité, dans le but de vérifier si les effets de la consanguinité se reflètent dans les paramètres démographiques. Cette race géographique est reconnue pour son taux de reproduction réduit en laboratoire causé par la dépression de consanguinité. La consanguinité est sans effet sur le taux de croissance de la population ou sur tout autre paramètre démographique. Les animaux consanguins subissent une croissance moins importante en début d'été que les animaux non consanguins, mais cela n'a aucune conséquence démographique. Cette recherche est l'une des rares études à comparer la performance d'une espèce en laboratoire et en nature en relation avec la dépression de consanguinité. D'autres comparaisons de ce type s'imposent avant qu'il ne soit possible de déterminer si la consanguinité a plus souvent des effets négatifs en nature qu'en laboratoire.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2001

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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