Testing temporal changes in allele frequencies: a simulation approach.
Analysis of the temporal variation in allele frequencies is useful for studying microevolutionary processes. However, many statistical methods routinely used to test temporal changes in allele frequencies fail to establish a proper hypothesis or have theoretical or practical limitations. Here, a Bayesian statistical test is proposed in which the distribution of the distances among sampling frequencies is approached with computer simulations, and hypergeometric sampling is considered instead of binomial sampling. To validate the test and compare its performance with other tests, agent-based model simulations were run for a variety of scenarios, and two real molecular databases were analysed. The results showed that the simulation test (ST) maintained the significance value used (α=0·05) for a vast combination of parameter values, whereas other tests were sensitive to the effect of genetic drift or binomial sampling. The differences between binomial and hypergeometric sampling were more complex than expected, and a novel effect was described. This study suggests that the ST is especially useful for studies with small populations and many alleles, as in microsatellite or sequencing molecular data.
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