Environmental factors are assumed to play an important role in the shaping of craniofacial morphology. Here we propose a statistical approach which can be of utility in estimating the magnitude and localization of a particular nongenetic factor upon the specific functional components of the skull. Our analysis is a combination of previous attempts of apportionment of variance and the application of craniofunctional theory. The effect of subsistence strategy on craniofacial functional components was studied on 18 populations of hunter-gatherers and farmers from South America. Results demonstrate that the environmental factors studied likely influenced the masticatory component's size and shape. Even when this effect is not large enough to clearly differentiate among subsistence strategies (since whole craniofacial variation among populations remains greater), the method used here provides interesting clues to localize plastic or adaptive responses to external stimuli. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.