Abstract

Surnames in Gracias a Dios: Population Structure and Residence Patterns in the Honduran Miskito Territory Assessed through Isonymy

Author(s): Edwin Francisco Herrera Paz and Delmy Aracely Mejía Mejia

The main objective of this paper is to assess the genetic structure and residence preferences of the populations that inhabit the Honduran Moskitia, a wide area of tropical rain forest that comprises the Department of Gracias a Dios, in the republic of Honduras. For this purpose, common isonymy parameters within and between parishes, as well as residence patterns using both surnames were calculated from a list of 22,961 electors at 54 villages or towns, grouped in six municipalities. High Isonymy values were obtained from all the communities and predominance in patrilocality in most of them, revealing a highly structured, patrilocal population composed mainly by relatively isolated communities.Analysis of isonymy between communities revealed the most probable historical migration routes and relations among locations. Evidence of an early relatively homogeneous peopling of the region followed by high differentiation between communities was found. The findings suggest that the Department of Gracias a Dios is a structured population composed mostly by communities with high endogamy and genetic drift, which makes it suitable for the performance of genetic studies on mendelian or complex diseases. The capital city of the department, Puerto Lempira, may be the only one experiencing a fast urbanization process.


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