Effects of pedigree errors on the efficiency of conservation decisions

P.A. Oliehoek, P. Bijma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Conservation schemes often aim at increasing genetic diversity by minimizing kinship, and the best method to achieve this goal, when pedigree data is available, is to apply optimal contributions. Optimal contributions calculate contributions per animal so that the weighted average mean kinship among candidate parents is minimized. This approach assumes that pedigree data is correct and complete. However, in practice, pedigrees often contain errors: parents are recorded incorrectly or even missing. We used simulations to investigate the effect of these two types of errors on minimizing kinship. Our findings show that a low percentage of wrong parent information reduces the effect of optimal contributions. When the percentage of wrong parent information is above 15%, the population structure and type of errors, should be taken into account before applying optimal contributions. Optimal contributions based on pedigrees with missing parent information hampers conservation of genetic diversity; however, missing parent information can be corrected. It is crucial to know which animals are founders. We strongly recommend that pedigree registration include whether missing parents are either true founders or non-founders.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Number of pages11
JournalGenetics, Selection, Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • genetic diversity
  • small populations
  • selection
  • cattle
  • minimization
  • generations
  • information
  • gain


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