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Lecture | Areal Histories

Cultural innovations and sex-specific behaviors influence patterns of genetic diversity in Northwestern Amazonia

Wednesday 25 November 2020
Language and the human past
Online via Microsoft Teams (register by e-mailing e.van.gijn@hum.leidenuniv.nl)


Human populations often exhibit contrasting patterns of genetic diversity in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and the non-recombining portion of the Y-chromosome (NRY), which reflect sex-specific cultural behaviors and population histories. In this talk I will present the results of an investigation of the patterns of genetic diversity in a large sample of populations covering the extant ethnolinguistic diversity of Northwestern Amazonia. We sequenced complete mtDNA genomes and a region of 2.3 million base pairs (Mb) of the NRY. These data showed that female population size has been larger than that of males through time, which might reflect larger variance in male reproductive success. Furthermore, we show evidence of the impact of postmarital residence patterns and linguistic exogamy on the levels of between-population differentiation and within-population diversity.

This study highlights the importance of analyzing high-resolution mtDNA and NRY sequences to reconstruct demographic history, since this can differ considerably between sexes.

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