Long-term effective population size dynamics of an intensively monitored vertebrate population

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Long-term genetic data from intensively monitored natural populations are important for understanding how effective population sizes (N e) can vary over time. We therefore genotyped 1622 common buzzard (Buteo buteo) chicks sampled over 12 consecutive years (2002-2013 inclusive) at 15 microsatellite loci. This data set allowed us to both compare single-sample with temporal approaches and explore temporal patterns in the effective number of parents that produced each cohort in relation to the observed population dynamics. We found reasonable consistency between linkage disequilibrium-based single-sample and temporal estimators, particularly during the latter half of the study, but no clear relationship between annual N e estimates () and census sizes. We also documented a 14-fold increase in between 2008 and 2011, a period during which the census size doubled, probably reflecting a combination of higher adult survival and immigration from further afield. Our study thus reveals appreciable temporal heterogeneity in the effective population size of a natural vertebrate population, confirms the need for long-term studies and cautions against drawing conclusions from a single sample.


  • A. K. Mueller
  • N. Chakarov
  • O. Krüger
  • J. I. Hoffman
External organisations
  • Bielefeld University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-299
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 1
Publication categoryResearch