Towards unbiased parentage assignment: Combining genetic, behavioural and spatial data in a Bayesian framework

J. Hadfield, D.S. Richardson, T. Burke

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255 Citations (Scopus)


Inferring the parentage of a sample of individuals is often a prerequisite for many types of analysis in molecular ecology, evolutionary biology and quantitative genetics. In all but a few cases, the method of parentage assignment is divorced from the methods used to estimate the parameters of primary interest, such as mate choice or heritability. Here we present a Bayesian approach that simultaneously estimates the parentage of a sample of individuals and a wide range of population-level parameters in which we are interested. We show that joint estimation of parentage and population-level parameters increases the power of parentage assignment, reduces bias in parameter estimation, and accurately evaluates uncertainty in both. We illustrate the method by analysing a number of simulated test data sets, and through a re-analysis of parentage in the Seychelles warbler, Acrocephalus sechellensis. A combination of behavioural, spatial and genetic data are used in the analyses and, importantly, the method does not require strong prior information about the relationship between nongenetic data and parentage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3715-3730
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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