TitleEffective sizes of macroparasite populations: a conceptual model
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsCriscione, CD, Blouin, M
JournalTrends in Parasitology
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Effective population size (N-e) is a crucial parameter in evolutionary biology because it controls genetic drift and the response to selection. Thus, N-e influences evolutionary processes in parasites, such as speciation, host-race formation, local host adaptation and the evolution of drug resistance. However, N-e is a parameter that is ignored almost completely in parasitology. Our goal is to provide a conceptual framework that facilitates future studies of the N-e of macroparasites. The key feature of macroparasite populations is that breeders are subdivided into infrapopulations. We use a model of subdivided breeders to show how some basic demographic factors that control N-e in all species could be estimated for macroparasites. An important conclusion is that several features of parasite life cycles probably function in concert to reduce N-e below that expected in a single free-living population of equivalent census size.

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