Quantifying Genetic Diversity

Genetic diversity is one of the most important attributes of any population. Environments are constantly changing, and genetic diversity is necessary if populations are to evolve continuously and adapt to new situations. Furthermore, low genetic diversity typically leads to increased levels of inbreeding, which can reduce the fitness of individuals and populations. An assessment of genetic diversity is therefore central to population genetics and has extremely important applications in conservation biology. Many estimates of genetic diversity are based on either allele frequencies or genotype frequencies, and it is important that we understand the difference between these two measures. We shall therefore start this section with a detailed look at the expected relationship between allele and genotype frequencies when a population is in Hardy--Weinberg equilibrium.

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