A primary focus of historical demographic research is to understand how a population’s mating pattern can affect its genetic structure. By using surnames, researchers can reconstruct gene flow into a population as well as within it: the population structure. Indeed, Lasker (1988a) noted that the distribution of surnames reflects the effect of mate choice on a population’s genetic structure. Here, we study the mating pattern of a small, clearly established breeding population in Costa Rica (Escazu) during 1800-1839 and 1850-1899. We found that a large proportion of marriages involved individuals who were members of longstanding or core families. Indeed, 27 families provided 56% of all consorts throughout the period under study. When new surnames appeared in the records (presumably as a result of immigration), they were introduced more frequently by males, indicating that more males than females migrated into the community. The core families did not mate preferentially among themselves but appear to have readily accepted the migrants. Indeed, the greatest preponderance of repeated-sumame marriages was that expected by chance. However, nonrandom surname repetition is evident when marriages between nonillegitimate consorts are analyzed. That is, the frequency of repeated-pair surname marriages is statistically significant in marriages involving brides and grooms who carried 2 surnames. Interestingly, significant departures from random repetition of surnames occurred during the decade in which the great cholera epidemic affected Costa Rica and during the decade following it. This departure from panmixia supports the notion that mating patterns were altered as a result of the epidemic, a suggestion we made previously when we reported that inbreeding increased in these same decades (Madrigal and Ware 1997).
Madrigal, L. and Ware, B.
"Mating Pattern and Population Structure in Escazu, Costa Rica: A Study Using Marriage Records,"
6, Article 5.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/humbiol/vol71/iss6/5