Differential phenotypic variability among the apalachee mission populations of La Florida: A diachronic perspective

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15 Scopus citations


Phenotypic variability is evaluated in a series of skeletal samples from the Apalachee region of Florida. Based on ethnohistoric evidence, several predictive models for changes in variability are generated. If variability decreases through time, this likely represents the effect of genetic drift in populations experiencing epidemic disease and population loss. If variability increases through time, this suggests that population aggregation or genetic admixture were primary factors shaping the Apalachee population during the mission period. Dental dimensions were collected from a series of precontact (pre-1500), early mission (AD 1633-1650) (San Pedro y San Pablo de Patale), and late mission (post-1657) (San Luis) samples from the Apalachee region and were subjected to univariate and multivariate variability analyses. The results indicate that the late mission San Luis sample was significantly more variable than the Patale or precontact samples; however, the Patale sample exhibited no significant variability change in comparison to the precontact population. This suggests that the missions initially effected limited change in genetic variability in the mission populations. However, San Luis was affected by either admixture or population aggregation to such a degree that the observed variation had increased beyond earlier levels. Given the limited historic evidence for population aggregation at this mission, and the comparatively large resident Spanish population, the increased variability may be indicative of admixture at this mission, and potentially at this mission only. Based on a limited data set, however, it appears that the mission period cannot be typified by a single evolutionary or historic process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-363
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Dental variability
  • European contact
  • La Florida missions
  • Microevolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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