We investigated whether birth weight and neonatal survival, a period within which 24% of all mortalities occur, were correlated with levels of inbreeding in St Kilda Soay sheep, using pedigree inbreeding coefficients and four marker-based estimators of inbreeding. None of the inbreeding estimators, either of the offspring, or of their mothers, explained significant variation in a lamb's birth weight or probability of surviving the neonatal period, suggesting low inbreeding depression for these traits. We evaluated the correlation between the marker-based measures of inbreeding and inbreeding coefficients obtained from the Soay pedigree, where paternal links were inferred using the same panel of microsatellite markers. Even when using a relatively complete portion of the pedigree, in which all individuals had known maternal and paternal grandparents, the correlation was found to be weak (r = −0.207, where mean f = 0.0168). These results add support to the recent prediction that when the mean and variance in inbreeding are low in a population, heterozygosity–fitness correlations can be very weak or even undetectable. The pursuit of more detailed pedigrees offers the best prospect for identifying inbreeding depression within this study population.
- birth weight
- heterozygosity–fitness correlation
- inbreeding depression
- neonatal survival
- Soay sheep