Inbreeding Depression

Royal intermarriage

Inbreeding depression is the reduced fitness in a given population as a result of breeding of related individuals. It is often the result of a population bottleneck. In general, the higher the genetic variation within a breeding population, the less likely it is to suffer from inbreeding depression. Inbreeding depression seems to be present in most groups of organisms, but is perhaps most important in hermaphroditic species. The majority of plants are hermaphroditic and thus are capable of the most severe degree of inbreeding depression.

Although severe inbreeding depression in humans is uncommon, there have been several cases. As with animals, this phenomenon tends to occur in isolated, rural populations that are cut off to some degree from other areas of civilization. A notable example is the Vadoma tribe of western Zimbabwe, many of whom carry the trait of having only two toes due to a small gene pool.

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