Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Tillquist, Christopher R.

Author's Keywords

Faroes; Genetics; Y chromosome; Island; Population history; Network


Faroe Islands; Human beings--Migrations; Human geography--Faroe Islands


The Faroe Islands are a small archipelago in the North Atlantic. With a current population of approximately 49,000 individuals and evidence of high levels of genetic drift, the Faroese are thought to have remained highly homogeneous since their settlement by Vikings around 825 CE. Despite their geographic isolation, however, there is historical evidence that the Faroese experienced sporadic contact with other populations since the time of founding. This study set out to distinguish the signal of the original founders from later migrants. Twelve Y-chromosomal STR markers were scored for 139 Faroese males. Median-joining networks were constructed to determine the phylogenetic relationships within the Faroese and between likely parental populations. Dispersal patterns of individuals around Faroese haplogroups suggest different times of haplogroup introduction to the islands. The most common haplogroup, R1a, consists of a large node with a tight network of neighbor haplotypes, such that 62.06% of R1a individuals are = two mutational steps away. This pattern may represent the early founder event of R1a in the Faroes. Other distributions document more recent introductions to the islands. The overall pattern is one of a strong founder effect followed by minor instances of later migrations.