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Estimators for QST and coalescence times

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Comparisons of QST to FST can provide insights into the evolutionary processes that lead to differentiation, or lack thereof, among the phenotypes of different groups (e.g., populations, species), and these comparisons have been performed on a variety of taxa, including humans. Here, I show that for neutrally evolving (i.e., by genetic drift, mutation, and gene flow alone) quantitative characters, the two commonly used QST estimators have somewhat different interpretations in terms of coalescence times, particularly when the number of groups that have been sampled is small. A similar situation occurs for FST estimators. Consequently, when observations come from only a small number of groups, which is not an unusual situation, it is important to match estimators appropriately when comparing QST to FST .

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