ABC inference of multi-population divergence with admixture from unphased population genomic data

John D Robinson, Lynsey Bunnefeld, Jack Hearn, Graham N Stone, Michael J Hickerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Rapidly developing sequencing technologies and declining costs have made it possible to collect genome-scale data from population-level samples in nonmodel systems. Inferential tools for historical demography given these data sets are, at present, underdeveloped. In particular, approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) has yet to be widely embraced by researchers generating these data. Here, we demonstrate the promise of ABC for analysis of the large data sets that are now attainable from nonmodel taxa through current genomic sequencing technologies. We develop and test an ABC framework for model selection and parameter estimation, given histories of three-population divergence with admixture. We then explore different sampling regimes to illustrate how sampling more loci, longer loci or more individuals affects the quality of model selection and parameter estimation in this ABC framework. Our results show that inferences improved substantially with increases in the number and/or length of sequenced loci, while less benefit was gained by sampling large numbers of individuals. Optimal sampling strategies given our inferential models included at least 2000 loci, each approximately 2 kb in length, sampled from five diploid individuals per population, although specific strategies are model and question dependent. We tested our ABC approach through simulation-based cross-validations and illustrate its application using previously analysed data from the oak gall wasp, Biorhiza pallida.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4458-71
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number18
Publication statusPrint publication - Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2014 The Authors. Molecular Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Genetics, Population/methods
  • Models, Genetic
  • Wasps/genetics


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