Genetic structure of the Saguenay, 1852-1911: evidence from migration and isonymy matrices

Am J Phys Anthropol. 1988 Nov;77(3):321-33. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.1330770305.


The Saguenay is a region in northeastern Québec populated in the second half of the 19th century through migration from other parts of Québec. The present-day population of nearly 300,000 is the result of both immigration and high rates of intrinsic growth. This population has been of interest to geneticists because of the high incidence of certain hereditary diseases, notably spastic ataxia, tyrosinemia, agenesis of the corpus callosum, vitamin D-dependent rickets, and myotonic dystrophy. Parent-offspring migration and isonymy matrices were used to estimate random kinship using the Malécot model for six 10-year time periods from 1852-1911. Comparisons between two estimates of kinship--one from parent-offspring migration matrices (phi) and the other from isonymy (R)--and geographic distance were made using both product-moment and Mantel correlation. Comparisons of within- and between-subdivision kinship were made using nonparametric and Mantel correlation. Within-subdivision kinship from the phi matrix was also compared with kinship estimated from marriage dispensations for endogamous marriages. The estimates of random kinship from the parent-offspring matrices showed a good fit with geography. However, isonymy did not correlate well with geographic distance; and phi and R showed no correlation until the last two time periods, and the diagonal of phi did not correlate with the marriage dispensations. Examination of scatterplots of phi vs. R suggests that nonrandom migration during the process of settlement formation is responsible for the lack of correlation. While movement across space seems to be highly dependent on distance, nonrandom selection of migrants means that between-subdivision estimates of kinship based on migration are not congruent with those obtained by other methods. On the whole, genetic differentiation seems to have been low due to the high levels of movement between subdivisions and immigration. The weak dependence of genetic structure on geographic distances in the present population is demonstrated by mapping the geographic distribution of cases of three recessively inherited diseases.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Genetics, Population
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Marriage
  • Probability
  • Quebec