The efficiency of multi-generation selection on maternal traits, with implications for reindeer
Maternally affected traits, such as juvenile growth and survival, provide resilience in mammal species, in particular for reindeer living in extreme northern habitat. The genetic variation in such traits is caused by direct and maternal genetic effects (DGE and MGE, respectively). We used Willham’s variance-component approach and extended a family index with the focal individual and its full- and half-sibs to an approximated BLUP (pseudo-BLUP) by including the parents’ estimated breeding values. Most of the deviations of the predicted responses from the simulated ones were 4.1% for DGE and 5.3% for MGE. The benefits of index and BLUP selection are high in the case of negative correlation, large full-sib family and in particular, when maternal half-sibs are available. Higher economic value for MGE than for DGE is needed, since with equal heritabilities and economic weights for the effects the maternal response is 40 to 70% of the direct one. With negative correlation, records on collateral relatives beyond sibs are possibly needed. They would support also the prediction of MGE in uniparous reindeer lacking full-sib information.