Hopi Indians, "cultural" selection, and albinism

Philip W. Hedrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The incidence of albinism in Hopi Indians has been estimated as approximately 1 in 200 individuals. It has been suggested that "cultural" selection as the result of a mating advantage of males with albinism has been important in the maintenance of this high incidence. To examine this hypothesis quantitatively, a model that includes male-mating advantage, mutation, and viability selection is analyzed. In order to play an important role in the maintenance of the high incidence of albinism, the necessary mating advantage of males with albinism appears unrealistically high. However, if the extent of viability selection against individuals with albinism is not as large as previously assumed, the necessary amount of mating advantage is not as high. Other related aspects are also discussed here, such as the type of albinism in Hopi Indians and its impact, the conditions for a polymorphism with male-mating advantage and viability selection, and the time necessary to change the incidence of albinism either by the relaxation or institution of male-mating advantage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-156
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003


  • Gene flow
  • Male-mating advantage
  • Mutation
  • Polymorphism
  • Selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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