Coalescent genealogy samplers: windows into population history

Trends Ecol Evol. 2009 Feb;24(2):86-93. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2008.09.007. Epub 2008 Dec 26.


Coalescent genealogy samplers attempt to estimate past qualities of a population, such as its size, growth rate, patterns of gene flow or time of divergence from another population, based on samples of molecular data. Genealogy samplers are increasingly popular because of their potential to disentangle complex population histories. In the last decade they have been widely applied to systems ranging from humans to viruses. Findings include detection of unexpected reproductive inequality in fish, new estimates of historical whale abundance, exoneration of humans for the prehistoric decline of bison and inference of a selective sweep on the human Y chromosome. This review summarizes available genealogy-sampler software, including data requirements and limitations on the use of each program.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Genealogy and Heraldry*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Phylogeny
  • Population Dynamics
  • Software*