Heterozygosity-Fitness Correlations in a Continental Island Population of Thorn-Tailed Rayadito

Esteban Botero-Delgadillo, Verónica Quirici, Rodrigo A. Vásquez, Bart Kempenaers

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Heterozygosity-fitness correlations (HFCs) have been used to monitor the effects of inbreeding in threatened populations. HFCs can also be useful to investigate the potential effects of inbreeding in isolated relict populations of long-term persistence and to better understand the role of inbreeding and outbreeding as drivers of changes in genetic diversity. We studied a continental island population of thorn-tailed rayadito (Aphrastura spinicauda) inhabiting the relict forest of Fray Jorge National Park, north-central Chile. This population has experienced a long-term, gradual process of isolation since the end of the Tertiary. Using 10 years of field data in combination with molecular techniques, we tested for HFCs to assess the importance of inbreeding depression. If inbreeding depression is important, we predict a positive relationship between individual heterozygosity and fitness-related traits. We genotyped 183 individuals at 12 polymorphic microsatellite loci and used 7 measures of reproductive success and estimates of apparent survival to calculate HFCs. We found weak to moderate statistical support (P-values between 0.05 and 0.01) for a linear effect of female multi-locus heterozygosity (MLH) on clutch size and nonlinear effects on laying date and fledging success. While more heterozygous females laid smaller clutches, nonlinear effects indicated that females with intermediate values of MLH started laying earlier and had higher fledging success. We found no evidence for effects of MLH on annual fecundity or on apparent survival. Our results along with the long-term demographic stability of the study population contradict the hypothesis that inbreeding depression occurs in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-639
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of heredity
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020


  • apparent survival
  • demographic history
  • inbreeding depression
  • outbreeding depression
  • relict population
  • reproductive success

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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