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Comparative evaluation of a new effective population size estimator based on approximate Bayesian computation

Tallmon, D. A., Luikart, G. and Beaumont, M. A. (2004) Comparative evaluation of a new effective population size estimator based on approximate Bayesian computation. Genetics, 167 (2). pp. 977-988. ISSN 0016-6731

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We describe and evaluate a new estimator of the effective population size (N-e), a critical parameter in evolutionary and conservation biology. This new "SummStat" N-e. estimator is based upon the use of summary statistics in an approximate Bayesian computation framework to infer N-e. Simulations of a Wright-Fisher population with known N-e show that the SummStat estimator is useful across a realistic range of individuals and loci sampled, generations between samples, and N-e values. We also address the paucity of information about the relative performance of N-e estimators by comparing the SUMMStat estimator to two recently developed likelihood-based estimators and a traditional moment-based estimator. The SummStat estimator is the least biased of the four estimators compared. In 32 of 36 parameter combinations investigated rising initial allele frequencies drawn from a Dirichlet distribution, it has the lowest bias. The relative mean square error (RMSE) of the SummStat estimator was generally intermediate to the others. All of the estimators had RMSE > 1 when small samples (n = 20, five loci) were collected a generation apart. In contrast, when samples were separated by three or more generations and Ne less than or equal to 50, the SummStat and likelihood-based estimators all had greatly reduced RMSE. Under the conditions simulated, SummStat confidence intervals were more conservative than the likelihood-based estimators and more likely to include true N-e. The greatest strength of the SummStat estimator is its flexible structure. This flexibility allows it to incorporate any, potentially informative summary statistic from Population genetic data.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:10624

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