A new procedure is proposed for estimating the effective population size, given that information is available on changes in frequencies of the alleles at one or more independently segregating loci and the population is observed at two or more separate times. Approximate expressions are obtained for the variances of the new statistic, as well as others, also based on allele frequency changes, that have been discussed in the literature. This analysis indicates that the new statistic will generally have a smaller variance than the others. Estimates of effective population sizes and of the standard errors of the estimates are computed for data on two fly populations that have been discussed in earlier papers. In both cases, there is evidence that the effective population size is very much smaller than the minimum census size of the population.
- Received April 3, 1981.
- Accepted March 23, 1983.