The statistical properties of the standardized variance of gene frequency changes (a quantity equivalent to Wright's inbreeding coefficient) in a random mating population are studied, and new formulae for estimating the effective population size are developed. The accuracy of the formulae depends on the ratio of sample size to effective size, the number of generations involved (t), and the number of loci or alleles used. It is shown that the standardized variance approximately follows the Χ2 distribution unless t is very large, and the confidence interval of the estimate of effective size can be obtained by using this property. Application of the formulae to data from an isolated population of Dacus oleae has shown that the effective size of this population is about one tenth of the minimum census size, though there was a possibility that the procedure of sampling genes was improper.

  • Received December 15, 1980.