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Abstract

Migration is expected to affect craniometric variation in three ways: 1) movement into a different environment leading to developmental plasticity; 2) movement into a different environment followed by in situ adaptation through natural selection; and 3) changes in among-group differentiation and genetic distance through the action of gene flow. The relative influence of these three factors has been argued in the literature, most recently in a series of articles debating the statistical and biological significance of Boas's immigration studies as they relate to cranial plasticity. The Boas debate is discussed within the broader context of debate over genetic and environmental influences on craniometric variation. Additional examples are provided from an ongoing study of global craniometric variation. Although developmental plasticity and climatic adaptation have had an impact on craniometric variation, these factors tend not to erase, or even obscure greatly, underlying patterns of population structure and history that fit a neutral model of quantitative variation. Thus, craniometric data can be used to explore questions of gene flow and genetic affinity. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 16:379–386, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.