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The fishing community of Bering Island, located in the Russian Commander Islands off the Kamchatka Peninsula, was originally founded by a small number of Russian soldiers and merchants, along with Aleuts forcibly relocated from the western region of the Aleutian archipelago. The purpose of this study is to characterize the genetic variation of Bering Island inhabitants for autosomal, mitochondrial, and Y-chromosome DNA and classic genetic markers and to investigate the genetic impact of the 19th-century founding and subsequent demographic events on this heterogeneous community. Our results show a loss of diversity among maternal lineages in the Bering Aleut population, with fixation of mtDNA haplogroup D, as revealed by median-joining network analysis and mismatch differences. Conversely, paternal haplotypes exhibit an increase in diversity and the presence of a substantial number of non-Native lineages. Admixture results, based on autosomal STR data, indicate that parental contributions to the mixed Aleut population of Bering are approximately 60% Aleut and 40% Russian. Classic genetic markers show affinities between the Bering Island Aleuts and the other historically founded Aleut communities of St. Paul and St. George in the Pribilof Islands, Alaska. This study demonstrates that the opposing evolutionary forces of genetic drift and gene flow acted on the maternal and paternal lineages, respectively, to shape the genetic structure of the present-day inhabitants of Bering Island.

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