Estimating genetic parameters in natural populations using the ‘animal model’

Loeske E. B. Kruuk

Abstract

Estimating the genetic basis of quantitative traits can be tricky for wild populations in natural environments, as environmental variation frequently obscures the underlying evolutionary patterns. I review the recent application of restricted maximum–likelihood ‘animal models’ to multigenerational data from natural populations, and show how the estimation of variance components and prediction of breeding values using these methods offer a powerful means of tackling the potentially confounding effects of environmental variation, as well as generating a wealth of new areas of investigation.