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Hum Biol. 1995 Jun;67(3):481-98.

Multivariate quantitative genetics of anthropometric traits from the Boas data.

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Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 37996-0720, USA.


The use of multivariate quantitative trait information to address questions of population relationships and evolutionary issues has a long-standing history in human anthropometry. Previous analyses have usually rested on a number of explicit or implicit assumptions that allow phenotypic information to be used as a proxy for quantitative genetic information. One (usually implicit) assumption is that the additive genetic variance-covariance matrix (G) among traits is proportional to the phenotypic variance-covariance matrix (P). In this study we discuss the implications of this assumption, demonstrating that if it is true that G = h2P, where h2 is some constant of proportionality, then (1) the biological (phenotypic) Mahalanobis distance will be proportional to genetic distance, (2) phenotypic and genetic allometry coefficients will be equal, and (3) evolutionary models will become simplified. We then use a multivariate quantitative genetic analysis of 12 anthropometric traits in 5 tribes to demonstrate that G = h2P for at least a portion of the Boas data.

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