• Eastern Siberia;
  • surnames distribution;
  • isonymy inbreeding levels;
  • isolation by distance;
  • human low-density diffusion


We studied the isonymic structure of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), in the Russian Federation, using the surname distributions of 491,259 citizens above 18 years registered as residents in 2002. These were distributed in 35 districts and 497 towns and settlements of the Republic. The number of different surnames was 44,625. Matrices of isonymic distances between the 35 districts were tested for correlation with the geographic distance between the population centers of gravity of thedistricts. We found that, for the whole of Yakutia, Nei's distance was correlated with geographic distance (r = 0.693 ± 0.027). A dendrogram of the 35 districts was built from the distance matrix, using the UPGMA method. The clusters identified by the dendrogram correlate with the geographic position of the districts. The correlation of random inbreeding calculated from isonymy, FST, with latitude was positive and highly significant but weak (r = 0.23). So, inbreeding was highest in the Arctic districts, and lowest in the South. Average α for 497 towns was 107, for 35 districts it was 311, and for the Republic 433. The value of α was higher for Russian than for the local languages. The geographical distribution of α, high in the Center and South-East and lower in the North-West, is compatible with the settlement of groups of migrants moving from the South-East toward the center and the North of Yakutia. It is proposed that low-density demic diffusion of human populations results in high inbreeding and may have been a general phenomenon in the early phases of human radiations. Am J Phys Anthropol 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.