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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Close relatives in population samples: Evaluation of the consequences for genetic stock identification

Ostergren, Johan; Palm, Stefan; Gilbey, John; Dannewitz, Johan


Determining the origin of individuals in mixed population samples is key in many ecological, conservation and management contexts. Genetic data can be analyzed using genetic stock identification (GSI), where the origin of single individuals is determined using Individual Assignment (IA) and population proportions are estimated with Mixed Stock Analysis (MSA). In such analyses, allele frequencies in a reference baseline are required. Unknown individuals or mixture proportions are assigned to source populations based on the likelihood that their multilocus genotypes occur in a particular baseline sample. Representative sampling of populations included in a baseline is important when designing and performing GSI. Here, we investigate the effects of family sampling on GSI, using both simulated and empirical genotypes for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). We show that nonrepresentative sampling leading to inclusion of close relatives in a reference baseline may introduce bias in estimated proportions of contributing populations in a mixed sample, and increases the amount of incorrectly assigned individual fish. Simulated data further show that the induced bias increases with increasing family structure, but that it can be partly mitigated by increased baseline population sample sizes. Results from standard accuracy tests of GSI (using only a reference baseline and/or self-assignment) gave a false and elevated indication of the baseline power and accuracy to identify stock proportions and individuals. These findings suggest that family structure in baseline population samples should be quantified and its consequences evaluated, before carrying out GSI.


Colony; family sampling; genetic differentiation; individual assignment; mixed stock analysis; Salmo salar

Published in

Molecular Ecology Resources
2020, Volume: 20, number: 2, pages: 498-510
Publisher: WILEY