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Inbred women in a small and isolated Swiss village have fewer children


Postma, E; Martini, L; Martini, P (2010). Inbred women in a small and isolated Swiss village have fewer children. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 23(7):1468-1474.

Abstract

Despite overwhelming evidence for a negative effect of inbreeding on fitness in plants and nonhuman animals, the exact nature of its effect in humans remains subject to debate. To obtain a better understanding of the effects of inbreeding on reproductive success in humans, we reconstructed the genealogies of the current inhabitants of a small and isolated Swiss village and used these to estimate the level of inbreeding of both members of all married couples, as well as their relatedness (i.e. the level of inbreeding of their offspring). Although there was no effect of parental relatedness on the number of children a couple had, we found that inbred mothers, but not inbred fathers, had significantly fewer children. Thus, although related couples did not have fewer children themselves, their inbred daughters did leave them with fewer grandchildren. Thereby, we provide evidence for the existence of inbreeding depression in human fertility, also in relatively outbred and egalitarian communities.

Despite overwhelming evidence for a negative effect of inbreeding on fitness in plants and nonhuman animals, the exact nature of its effect in humans remains subject to debate. To obtain a better understanding of the effects of inbreeding on reproductive success in humans, we reconstructed the genealogies of the current inhabitants of a small and isolated Swiss village and used these to estimate the level of inbreeding of both members of all married couples, as well as their relatedness (i.e. the level of inbreeding of their offspring). Although there was no effect of parental relatedness on the number of children a couple had, we found that inbred mothers, but not inbred fathers, had significantly fewer children. Thus, although related couples did not have fewer children themselves, their inbred daughters did leave them with fewer grandchildren. Thereby, we provide evidence for the existence of inbreeding depression in human fertility, also in relatively outbred and egalitarian communities.

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13 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:consanguinity; family size; humans; inbreeding; inbreeding depression; isolated populations; maternal effect; reproduction; Switzerland
Language:English
Date:July 2010
Deposited On:16 Jul 2010 10:00
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:11
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:1010-061X
Funders:Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) [31003A-116794]
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02013.x
PubMed ID:20492085
Other Identification Number:ISI:000278914600012
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-34899

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