Diversity doesn't point reliably to source populations

less than 1 minute read

Worth amplifying from Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog, “Y chromosomes of the Bahamas”:

I like the line about there being substantially more Y-STR variation in E1b1a7a-U174 and E1b1ba8-U175 in the Bahamas than any African collection. I have argued for years that the central assumption of phylogeography, that the location of highest Y-STR diversity is not necessarily the point of origin of a haplogroup, since Y-STR diversity can be affected both by antiquity and by admixture. Nonetheless, I keep reading papers where tiny differences in Y-STR variation, even if we forget about the noisiness of Y-STRs themselves, are taken as evidence of ancient migrations. Thankfully, the time when Y-STRs were used to infer ancient migrations is over, and the huge collection of Y-STR haplotypes amassed by population geneticists, forensic specialists, and genealogists alike can be put to uses for which it is more amenable.

Once we have population mixture, hypotheses about phylogeography become much harder to test. A population model with mixture has many ways of generating the same pattern of relative diversity among populations.