Multivariate quantitative genetics of anthropometric traits from the boas data

Lyle W Konigsberg, Stephen D. Ousley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of multivariate quantitative trait information to address questions of population relationships and evolutionary issues has a longstanding 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 = h 2 P, where h 2 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 = h 2 P for at least a portion of the Boas data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-594
Number of pages16
JournalHuman biology
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Allometry
  • Biological distance
  • Evolutionary theory
  • Native Americans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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