Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 56, Issue 24, pp 2531–2540

When central populations exhibit more genetic diversity than peripheral populations: A simulation study

Open Access
Article Special Topic Conservation Biology of Endangered Wildlife


The central-peripheral population hypothesis (CPH) predicts that peripheral populations have reduced genetic variability. Therefore, it is often assumed that they deserve higher conservation priority over central populations. We examined this hypothesis using computer simulations with the objective of determining the range of species properties (parameters) under which a species is likely to exhibit the CPH pattern. The interaction between migration, genetic drift, and time of population establishment was examined; in particular, various parameters of migration, such as mode of dispersal, migration rate, and maximum migration distance, were investigated. The CPH pattern was observed only within a narrow parameter window of various species properties. Active dispersers with low migration rate and moderate maximum migration distance were more likely to have higher genetic diversity in the central populations than in the peripheral populations. Newly established populations were also more likely to exhibit the CPH pattern. Although migration rate appeared to be the most important determining factor, sensitivity analysis suggested that the interaction between parameters is probably more important than any single parameter. Our findings have important implications for conservation programs.


central-peripheral population hypothesis migration genetic drift population establishment time active disperser passive disperser conservation 

Supplementary material

11434_2011_4605_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (350 kb)
Supplementary material, approximately 349 KB.


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chengdu Institute of BiologyChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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