Heterozygosity Applet

This program simulates the distribution of alleles in the current population of Mexican wolves. Allele distribution is quantified by heterozygosity. Heterozygosity is important because it serves as raw material for selection and adaptation. Without genetic diversity, a small change in the environment could cause the extinction of the species, as they will have to depend on mutation (which is far too slow and unpredictable to keep up with e.g. global warming) to develop more adapted genotypes.

We are assuming that each of the three founders of this "certified" pedigree have two unique alleles, which gives an initial heterozygosity of one hundred percent. The program runs eight hundred genedrop simulations and outputs the average loss of heterozygosity shown by the extant population. It is important to note that this heterozygosity score is not literal (no mammal populations have heterozygosities of much over ten percent over their entire genomes) but relative, compared to the allelic diversity of the founders. A genedrop consists of choosing one allele (randomly selected from the two available) from each parent and passing it to their offspring. Because this is a random process, the results of this simulation are not definite. They do however, mark the most likely course of events and show that no matter how carefully animals are bred, three founders are not enough to maintain allelic diversity at a high level.

It should be noted that there have been recent infusions of new alleles from alternate lineages which will dramatically improve heterozygosity.

The program will take about 1 minute to complete its graph.
(Graph requires JAVA to be enabled.)