Sex-specific differences of craniofacial traits in Croatia: The impact of environment in a small geographic area
Source: Annals of Human Biology, Volume 34, Number 3, May 2007 , pp. 296-314(19)
Publisher: Informa Healthcare
Abstract:Background: Craniometric variation in humans reflects different genetic and environmental influences. Long-term climatic adaptation is less likely to show an impact on size and shape variation in a small local area than at the global level. Aim: The aim of this work was to assess the contribution of the particular environmental factors to body height and craniofacial variability in a small geographic area of Croatia. Subjects and methods: A total of 632 subjects, aged 18-21, participated in the survey. Body height, head length, head breadth, head height, head circumference, cephalic index, morphological face height, face breadth, and facial index were analysed regarding geographic, climatic and dietary conditions in different regions of the country, and correlated with the specific climatic variables (cumulative multiyear sunshine duration, cumulative multiyear average precipitation, multiyear average air temperatures) and calcium concentrations in drinking water. Significant differences between groups classified according to geographic, climatic or dietary affiliation, and the impact of the environmental predictors on the variation in the investigated traits were assessed using multiple forward stepwise regression analyses. Results: Higher body height measures in both sexes were significantly correlated with Mediterranean diet type. Mediterranean diet type also contributed to higher head length and head circumference measures in females. Cephalic index values correlated to geographic regions in both sexes, showing an increase from southern to eastern Croatia. In the same direction, head length significantly decreased in males and head breadth increased in females. Mediterranean climate was associated with higher and narrower faces in females. The analysis of the particular climatic variables did not reveal a significant influence on body height in either sex. Concurrently, climatic features influenced all craniofacial traits in females and only head length and facial index in males. Mediterranean climate, characterized by higher average sunshine duration, higher average precipitation and higher average air temperatures, was associated with longer, higher and narrower skulls, higher head circumference, lower cephalic index, and higher and narrower faces (lower facial index). Calcium concentrations in drinking water did not correlate significantly with any dependent variable. Conclusion: A significant effect of environmental factors on body height and craniofacial variability was found in Croatian young adult population. This effect was more pronounced in females, revealing sex-specific craniofacial differentiation. However, the impact of environment was low and may explain only 1.0-7.32% variation of the investigated traits.
Document Type: Research article
Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology and Medical Genetics, School of Medicine, University of Rijeka, Rijeka, Croatia 2: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, School of Medicine, University of Rijeka, Rijeka, Croatia
Publication date: 2007-05-01