Before Farming

Becoming Australian

evolutionary processes and biological variation from ancient to modern times

Before Farming (2006), 2006, (1), 1–21.

Abstract

A model of human colonisation of Australia is presented which describes morphological variation within the continent in terms of evolutionary processes that have created diversification. This model differs from models [di-hybrid, trihybrid] that explain observed variation as a result of colonisation and subsequent inter-marriage of multiple migratory groups. Instead, a unitary origin model explains variation as a consequence of gene flow, natural selection and genetic drift. Three separate case studies are presented. Gene flow along the Murray River is shown to be a structuring agent of morphological variation that contributes to differentiation, of which a significant factor is population size. Selection accounts for, in part, regional differences in body proportions and size. Genetic Drift has probably been relatively more important among populations of the arid zone, which are characterised by small numbers and sparse distribution, compared to densely populated regions such as the Murray River and the Top End.

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Pardoe, Colin