Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Sometimes Hidden but Always There: Assumptions Behind Demographic Inference from Ancient DNA Data

Version 1 : Received: 27 February 2020 / Approved: 2 March 2020 / Online: 2 March 2020 (15:17:14 CET)

How to cite: Loog, L. Sometimes Hidden but Always There: Assumptions Behind Demographic Inference from Ancient DNA Data. Preprints 2020, 2020030027 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202003.0027.v1). Loog, L. Sometimes Hidden but Always There: Assumptions Behind Demographic Inference from Ancient DNA Data. Preprints 2020, 2020030027 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202003.0027.v1).

Abstract

Demographic processes directly affect patterns of genetic variation within contemporary populations as well as future generations, allowing for demographic inference from patterns of both present day and past genetic variation. Advances in laboratory procedures and sequencing and genotyping technologies in the last decades have resulted in massive increases in high quality genome-wide genetic data from present day populations and allowed retrieving genetic data from archaeological material, also known as ancient DNA. This has resulted in an explosion of work exploring past changes in population size, structure, continuity and movement. However, as genetic processes are highly stochastic, patterns of genetic variation only indirectly reflect demographic histories. As a result, past demographic processes need to be reconstructed using an inferential approach. This usually involves comparing observed patterns of variation with model expectations from theoretical population genetics. A large number of approaches have been developed based on different population genetic models that each come with assumptions about the data and underlying demography. In this article I review some of the key models and assumptions underlying the most commonly used approaches for past demographic inference and their consequences for our ability to link the inferred demographic processes to the archaeological and climate records.

Subject Areas

Population genetics; Statistical modelling; Demographic modelling; Ancient DNA; Population history; Archaeology

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