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Founder effect

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The founder effect is the reduction in genetic variation that results when a small subset of a large population is used to establish a new colony. The new population may be very different from the original population, both in terms of its genotypes and phenotypes. In some cases, the founder effect plays a role in the emergence of new species.

The term genetic drift is also used. Many people regard the two terms as synonymous.

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This article uses material in the public domain from the Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms and is reproduced courtesy of the National Human Genome Research Institute.