Skip to main content Accessibility help

Cultural differentiation does not entail group-level structure: The case for geographically explicit analysis

  • Robert Malcolm Ross (a1) (a2) and Quentin Douglas Atkinson (a3) (a4)


Richerson et al. argue that relatively large cultural F ST values provide evidence for group structure and therefore scope for group selection. However, recent research on spatial patterns of cultural variation demonstrates that, as in the genetic case, apparent group structure can be a consequence of geographic clines, not group barriers. Such a pattern limits the scope for cultural group selection.



Hide All
Bell, A. V., Richerson, P. J. & McElreath, R. (2009) Culture rather than genes provides greater scope for the evolution of large-scale human prosociality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106(42):17671–74. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0903232106.
Brown, S., Savage, P. E., Ko, A. M., Stoneking, M., Ko, Y. C., Loo, J. H. & Trejaut, J. A. (2014) Correlations in the population structure of music, genes and language. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281(1774):e20132072. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2072.
Handley, L. J. L., Manica, A., Goudet, J. & Balloux, F. (2007) Going the distance: Human population genetics in a clinal world. Trends in Genetics 23(9):432–39. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2007.07.002.
Holsinger, K. E. & Weir, B. S. (2009) Genetics in geographically structured populations: Defining, estimating and interpreting FST . Nature Reviews Genetics 10(9):639–50. doi: 10.1038/nrg2611.
Jobling, M. A. (2012) The impact of recent events on human genetic diversity. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 367(1590):793–99. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0297.
Lao, O., Lu, T. T., Nothnagel, M., Junge, O., Freitag-Wolf, S., Caliebe, A., Balascakova, M., Bertranpetit, J., Bindoff, L. A., Comas, D., Holmlund, G., Kouvatsi, A., Macek, M., Mollet, I., Parson, W., Palo, J., Ploski, R., Sajantila, A., Tagliabracci, A., Gether, U., Werge, T., Rivadeneira, F., Hofman, A., Uitterlinden, A. G., Gieger, C., Wichmann, H. E., Rüther, A., Schreiber, S., Becker, C., Nümberg, P., Nelson, M. R., Krawczak, M. & Kayser, M. (2008) Correlation between genetic and geographic structure in Europe. Current Biology 18(16):1241–48. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.07.049.
Novembre, J., Johnson, T., Bryc, K., Kutalik, Z., Boyko, A. R., Auton, A., Indap, A., King, K. S., Bergmann, S., Nelson, M. R., Stephens, M. & Bustamante, C. D. (2008) Genes mirror geography within Europe. Nature 456(7218):98101. doi: 10.1038/nature07331.
Ross, R. M., Greenhill, S. J. & Atkinson, Q. D. (2013) Population structure and cultural geography of a folktale in Europe. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280(1756):20123065. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.3065.
Shennan, S. J., Crema, E. R. & Kerig, T. (2015) Isolation-by-distance, homophily, and “core” vs. “package” cultural evolution models in Neolithic Europe. Evolution and Human Behavior 36(2):103–19. doi: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2014.09.006.
Smaldino, P. E. (2014) The cultural evolution of emergent group-level traits. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37(3):243–95. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X13001544.
Wright, S. (1943) Isolation by distance. Genetics 28:114–38.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Cultural differentiation does not entail group-level structure: The case for geographically explicit analysis

  • Robert Malcolm Ross (a1) (a2) and Quentin Douglas Atkinson (a3) (a4)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.