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The founder effect is a form of genetic bottleneck occuring where new populations are established by a small number of individuals, or by a group of individuals whose genetic variation is not representative of the parent population. The founder effect is a cause of genetic drift because the daughter population contains only a sample of the alleles from the parent population.
The founder effect can be seen in many human populations, as Africans have far more genetic variation than the inhabitants of any other continent, whose occupants are descended from migrants from Africa. The effect can be seen again in further migrations to the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Japan and many Pacific and Atlantic islands. The effect can be seen in other island animal populations. The effect is also seen in human populations who are isolated culturally as well as geographically, such as the Amish who are descended from very few ancestors, with little outbreeding. A high proportion of Amish people have polydactyly, a genetic condition which gives six digits on each hand and foot.
This page is part of the EvoWiki encyclopedia of genetics and molecular biology.