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Keywords:

  • Aleuts;
  • mtDNA;
  • mismatch analysis;
  • reduced median network analysis

Abstract

The mtDNA variation of 198 Aleuts, as well as North American and Asian populations drawn from the literature, were analyzed to reconstruct the Aleuts' genetic prehistory and to investigate their role in the peopling of the Circumarctic region. From median-joining network analysis, three star-like clusters were identified in the Aleuts within the following subhaplogroups: A3, A7 (an Aleut-specific subclade of A3), and D2. Mismatch analyses, neutrality test scores, and coalescent time estimates for these three components provided evidence of two expansion events, one occurring at approximately 19,900 B.P. and the other at 5,400 B.P. Based on these findings and evidence from the archaeological data, four general models for the genetic prehistory of the Aleutian Island chain are proposed: 1) biological continuity involving a kin-structured peopling of the archipelago; 2) intrusion and expansion of a non-native biface-producing population dominated by subhaplogroup D2; 3) amalgamation of Arctic Small Tool tradition peoples characterized by D2 with an older Anangula substratum; and 4) biological continuity with significant gene flow from neighboring populations of the Alaskan mainland and Kodiak Island. The Aleut mtDNAs are consistent with the Circumarctic pattern by the fixation of A3 and D2, and the exhibition of depressed diversity levels relative to Amerind and Siberian groups. The results of this study indicate a broad postglacial reexpansion of Na-Dene and Esko-Aleuts from reduced populations within northern North America, with D2 representing a later infusion of Siberian mtDNAs into the Beringian gene pool. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.