Genomic variation of inbreeding and ancestry in the remaining two Isle Royale wolves

Document Type


Publication Date



© The American Genetic Association 2016. All rights reserved. Inbreeding, relatedness, and ancestry have traditionally been estimated with pedigree information, however, molecular genomic data can provide more detailed examination of these properties. For example, pedigree information provides estimation of the expected value of these measures but molecular genomic data can estimate the realized values of these measures in individuals. Here, we generate the theoretical distribution of inbreeding, relatedness, and ancestry for the individuals in the pedigree of the Isle Royale wolves, the first examination of such variation in a wild population with a known pedigree. We use the 38 autosomes of the dog genome and their estimated map lengths in our genomic analysis. Although it is known that the remaining wolves are highly inbred, closely related, and descend from only 3 ancestors, our analyses suggest that there is significant variation in the realized inbreeding and relatedness around pedigree expectations. For example, the expected inbreeding in a hypothetical offspring from the 2 remaining wolves is 0.438 but the realized 95% genomic confidence interval is from 0.311 to 0.565. For individual chromosomes, a substantial proportion of the whole chromosomes are completely identical by descent. This examination provides a background to use when analyzing molecular genomic data for individual levels of inbreeding, relatedness, and ancestry. The level of variation in these measures is a function of the time to the common ancestor(s), the number of chromosomes, and the rate of recombination. In the Isle Royale Wolf population, the few generations to a common ancestor results in the high variance in genomic inbreeding.

Publication Title

Journal of Heredity