Conservation Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 355–373

Estimation of census and effective population sizes: the increasing usefulness of DNA-based approaches


    • Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of Montana
    • Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos and Universidade do
    • Flathead Lake Biological Station, University of Montana
  • Nils Ryman
    • Division of Population Genetics, Department of ZoologyUniversity of Stockholm
  • David A. Tallmon
    • Biology and Marine Biology ProgramsUniversity of Alaska Southeast
  • Michael K. Schwartz
    • USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
  • Fred W. Allendorf
    • Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of Montana
    • School of Biological SciencesVictoria University of Wellington

DOI: 10.1007/s10592-010-0050-7

Cite this article as:
Luikart, G., Ryman, N., Tallmon, D.A. et al. Conserv Genet (2010) 11: 355. doi:10.1007/s10592-010-0050-7


Population census size (NC) and effective population sizes (Ne) are two crucial parameters that influence population viability, wildlife management decisions, and conservation planning. Genetic estimators of both NC and Ne are increasingly widely used because molecular markers are increasingly available, statistical methods are improving rapidly, and genetic estimators complement or improve upon traditional demographic estimators. We review the kinds and applications of estimators of both NC and Ne, and the often undervalued and misunderstood ratio of effective-to-census size (Ne/NC). We focus on recently improved and well evaluated methods that are most likely to facilitate conservation. Finally, we outline areas of future research to improve Ne and NC estimation in wild populations.


Population size estimationNoninvasive samplingRemote genetic monitoringAbundanceBottleneckNe/NC ratioHabitat fragmentation

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010