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Keywords:

  • Quantitative variation;
  • Population structure;
  • Genetic drift;
  • Migration;
  • Distance measures;
  • Admixture;
  • Bioassay of kinship

Abstract

Studies of human population structure and history have tended to use demographic and/or serological data for analysis. This paper reviews the methods and studies that incorporate quantitative traits (usually polygenic traits) in such analyses. Methods of assessing the degree and pattern of among-group variation are discussed, and are characterized as being model-free or model-bound. Model-free methods deal with the measure of overall populational differentiation and with comparative methods for describing the pattern of differentiation. Model-bound methods are used for direct incorporation into theoretical models of population structure in order to estimate genetic parameters, such as those in admixture and isolation by distance models. To date, studies have indicated that quantitative traits may often be used successfully in studies of human population structure, and show effects of microevolutionary forces on quantitative variation among populations.