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Long-Term Evaluation of Breeding Scheme Alternatives for Endangered Honeybee Subspecies

1
Institute for Bee Research, Friedrich-Engels Str. 32, 16540 Hohen Neuendorf, Germany
2
Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institute for Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Humboldt University of Berlin, 10099 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2020, 11(7), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11070404
Received: 20 May 2020 / Revised: 12 June 2020 / Accepted: 25 June 2020 / Published: 30 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Honeybee Breeding)
Modern breeding structures are emerging for European honeybee populations. However, while genetic evaluations of honeybees are becoming increasingly well understood, little is known about how selection decisions shape the populations’ genetic structures. We performed simulations evaluating 100 different selection schemes, defined by selection rates for dams and sires, in populations of 200, 500, or 1000 colonies per year and considering four different quantitative traits, reflecting different genetic parameters and numbers of influential loci. Focusing on sustainability, we evaluated genetic progress over 100 years and related it to inbreeding developments. While all populations allowed for sustainable breeding with generational inbreeding rates below 1% per generation, optimal selection rates differed and sustainable selection was harder to achieve in smaller populations and for stronger negative correlations of maternal and direct effects in the selection trait. In small populations, a third or a fourth of all candidate queens should be selected as dams, whereas this number declined to a sixth for larger population sizes. Furthermore, our simulations indicated that, particularly in small populations, as many sires as possible should be provided. We conclude that carefully applied breeding provides good prospects for currently endangered honeybee subspecies, since sustainable genetic progress improves their attractiveness to beekeepers.
Keywords: honeybee breeding; endangered species; simulation studies; sustainable breeding; inbreeding; local subspecies; breeding strategies; genetic variance; genetic gain honeybee breeding; endangered species; simulation studies; sustainable breeding; inbreeding; local subspecies; breeding strategies; genetic variance; genetic gain
MDPI and ACS Style

Plate, M.; Bernstein, R.; Hoppe, A.; Bienefeld, K. Long-Term Evaluation of Breeding Scheme Alternatives for Endangered Honeybee Subspecies. Insects 2020, 11, 404.

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