Wondering if anyone is aware of any studies that may have looked at confirming the accuracy of population bottleneck models by determining the minimum bottlenecks for a known species with known bottleneck populations and times?
Ideally, a third party would collect all the sample DNA data and anonymize it somehow – perhaps focusing only on one gene and/or a small number of genes where the species cannot be readily identified – and then send to several different groups using different models to see what minimum population size and date they come up with.
An example species might be something like bison in North America (plains and/or wood), where the population was once 20 -30 million, then went all the way down to under 1,000 in the late 1800’s, then shot all the way back up to 500,000 in only about 100 years at present. Yes, humans helped revive them (after almost killing them off), but if we’re talking about using this study to look at the potential accuracy of these models for human bottlenecks, seems like there would be some similar intervention dynamics within human populations as well. And yes, cattle were admixed with the bison populations, but perhaps this is analogous to Neanderthal admixing with humans? I believe wood bison in Canada may have less cattle admixing (if any), so maybe this sub-species would be better.
Since this bottleneck is such a short time ago and the diversity is so low, wouldn’t this be a slam dunk for population models?
Even better, is there some known very small bottleneck, say of some invasive species introduced by humans into an isolated island – where hundreds of years ago humans brought in a known and very small population…maybe even a population of two??
@swamidass: Did some searches and could not find anything similar being done, but let me know if you are aware of this or your thoughts.
However, if the group(s) doing the models already knew in advance the species and population minimums – skeptics may question whether the models were just tweaked to fit the known bottleneck(s).
I see that they determined the bottleneck for Florida Panthers via the genetic analysis, but don’t see if they can confirm this with any record-keeping data. It just seems like the genetics models are all that they have this this case:
Any other species that would be a good test? A small population introduced by humans hundreds of years ago on some remote island would seem ideal?
Again, to me, seems like this should be a slam dunk verification for population models, if done well. However,most of these would be so recent and so intertwined with human impacts that maybe they would not have much applicability to the accuracy of human bottlenecks that are 50k to ~100k years ago.