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Question on Effective Population Size

Xuhua Xia xxia1 at unix1.sncc.lsu.edu
Fri Dec 1 09:41:38 EST 1995

Fred Bacon (bacon at arlut.utexas.edu) wrote:
: Recently, in a different newsgroup, the textbook _Fundamentals of
: Molecular Evolution_ (by Wen-Hsiung Li and Dan Graur) was recommended as a
: good introduction to molecular evolution.  Since I am a physicist and not
: a biologist, my background in the subject is weak, but I have a personal
: interest in the topic.

: To come to my point, I am having trouble understanding a formula presented
: in the second chapter of FoME (page 30 in my copy).  The authors are
: discussing the concept of effective population size, denoted N_e.  They
: offer a formula to calculate N_e when the number of males and females in a
: populations is different.

:                       4 N_m N_f
:               N_e = -------------
:                       N_m + N_f

: My problem is that they offer no argument for the validity of this
: equation, and they give no reference for where it was first derived. 

There are good intuitive explanations and numerical illustrations for
some calculations of effective population size in Daniel Hartl's book
"Principles of Population Genetics". The book is written with 
non-biologists in mind.

Xuhua Xia                         | 
Museum of Natural Science         | Phone: (504) 388-2841
119 Foster Hall                   | Fax  : (504) 388-3075
Louisiana State University        | Email: xuhua at unix1.sncc.lsu.edu
Baton Rouge, LA 70803             |
USA                               |

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