Purging and accumulation of genetic load in conservation

Nicolas Dussex, Hernán E. Morales, Christine Grossen, Love Dalén, Cock van Oosterhout

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Our ability to assess the threat posed by the genetic load to small and declining populations has been greatly improved by advances in genome sequencing and computational approaches. Yet, considerable confusion remains around the definitions of the genetic load and its dynamics, and how they impact individual fitness and population viability. We illustrate how both selective purging and drift affect the distribution of deleterious mutations during population size decline and recovery. We show how this impacts the composition of the genetic load, and how this affects the extinction risk and recovery potential of populations. We propose a framework to examine load dynamics and advocate for the introduction of load estimates in the management of endangered populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-969
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number10
Early online date19 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • bottleneck
  • conservation
  • genetic load
  • genomic erosion
  • purging

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