Can one learn history from the allelic spectrum?

Simon Myers, Charles Fefferman, Nick Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


It is well known that the neutral allelic frequency spectrum of a population is affected by the history of population size. A number of authors have used this fact to infer history given observed allele frequency data. We ask whether perfect information concerning the spectrum allows precise recovery of the history, and with an explicit example show that the answer is in the negative. This implies some limitations on how informative allelic spectra can be.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-348
Number of pages7
JournalTheoretical Population Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


  • Allelic spectrum
  • Diffusions
  • Kimura


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