Advances in Anthropology
2013. Vol.3, No.3, 121-126
Published Online August 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/aa) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/aa.2013.33016
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 121
Opportunity for the Operation of Natural Selection in a
Contemporary Local Population (The Case of Slovincians, Poland)
Oskar Nowak1, Grażyna Liczbińska2*, Janusz Piontek1
1Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Biology, Institute of Anthropology,
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
2Department of Human Population Ecology, Faculty of Biology, Institute of Anthropology,
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, *email@example.com
Received February 19th, 2013; revised March 19th, 2013; accepted March 29th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Oskar Nowak et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
In research practice, it is possible to observe natural selection at work by analysing fertility and mortality.
Crow’s index takes into account both of these vital statistics components and allows a quantitative esti-
mation of the operation of natural selection on the basis of demographic birth and death figures. In this
study, we use the classical Crow’s index to determine whether the disintegration of the Slovincian popu-
lation in the second half of the 20th century was caused by factors of a biological nature, finally leading to
disturbances in the reproductive strategy, or whether it was a result of the impact of many factors of a
cultural nature. Use was made of measuring cards for 109 women and 38 men. The sample was divided
into two generations: 1st generation, or individuals born up to the year 1900, and 2nd generation—those
born after 1900. In this material the opportunity for the operation of natural selection due to differential
mortality and differential fertility was rather weak. Both generations of Slovincians were characterized by
high fertility, suggesting their non-Malthusian type of reproductive strategy, and decreasing mortality of
sexually immatures over time.It seems, therefore, that the loss of ethnic identity by Slovincians and their
migration from the home territories was influenced by several factors of a cultural nature rather than their
Keywords: Crow’s Index; Mortality; Fertility; Ecology; Ethnicity; Disintegration
Natural selection is the main factor of the evolutionary pro-
cess. This factor still operates in contemporary populations,
causing slow gradual evolutionary changes (e.g. Byars et al.,
2010; Kosova et al., 2010; Little et al., 1989, 2008; Malina et
al., 2008; Prakash & Narayanan, 2009). A measure of the op-
eration of natural selection is diversity in the reproductive suc-
cess of individuals. In research practice, it is possible to observe
natural selection at work on the basis of the analysis of fertility
and mortality in populations (Piontek, 1979; Prakash & Nara-
The index of total selection intensity proposed by Crow
(1958) combines both vital-statistics components and allows
estimating the intensity of selection by differential mortality
and differential fertility. The first component of Crow’s index
takes into account only the mortality of individuals who do not
reached sexual maturity (Crow, 1958), and determines the pro-
portion of children who failed to live to reproductive age to
those who attained it. The other component takes into account
the opportunity for natural selection due to differential fertility
and is estimated by the ratio of the variance of the number of
children in complete families (i.e. with wives past their child-
bearing age) to the square mean of the number of children in
those families (Crow, 1958; Piontek, 1979). The original
Crow’s index has seen some modifications. Since it covered
mortality at postnatal age only, Johnston and Kensinger (1971)
introduced into its formula a correction for prenatal mortality.
Brena and Martinez (1986, 1987), in turn, set the interpretation
of Crow’s index in an evolutionary context.
In anthropology, and in particular in the biology of historical
populations (studied on the basis of archival research) and pre-
historic populations (studied on the basis of skeletal remains),
Crow’s index is a very popular measure. Despite some limita-
tions (its Im component does not include the mortality of adults,
and the If component takes into account the total number of
offspring about which we are not sure whether or not it is regu-
lated culturally), it is widely used in research because it allows
a quantitative estimation of the operation of natural selection on
the basis of the demographic statistics of births and deaths,
often collected during anthropological studies (Jorde & Durbize,
1986, Terrenato et al., 1979; Hed, 1984, 1987; Reddy & Chopra,
Spuhler (1963, 1976), for example, analysed the values of
Crow’s index for 57 populations of the world and stressed that
they varied in different regions as a reflection of their ecologi-
cal and cultural conditions. With regard to the populations of
the former Soviet Union, a spatial variation of Crow’s index
was studied (Bolshakova & Revazov, 1988; Ivanov et al., 1997;
O. NOWAK ET AL.
Kadoshnikova et al., 1996; Kucher & Soltobaeva, 2004; Kur-
batowa et al., 2005; Posukh et al., 1996; Revazov & Bol-
shakova, 1984; Startseva et al., 1996). The same was true of the
highly endogamous and isolated mountain communities of
India (e.g. Dharani et al., 2003; Chanu & Varte, 2009; Lakshmi
et al., 2005; Rajanikumari et al., 1985; Reddy et al., 1987, 1990;
Varte & Varte, 2006), the Yanomama Indians (Neel & Weiss,
1975), or some European populations, such as Swedish (Hed,
1984, 1987) and Spanish (Alfonso-Sánches et al., 2004; Blanco
Villefas & Fuster, 2007; Luna & Moral, 1990).
With regard to the populations from the Polish territory, the
opportunity for natural selection has been a subject of many
studies, both of prehistoric populations as historical ones (e.g.
Budnik, 2005; Budnik & Liczbińska, 2006; Budnik & Przy-
byszewska, 1991; Budnik et al., 2002, 2004; Berdychowski &
Henneberg, 1978; Hennenberg & Piontek, 1975; Henneberg et
al., 1977; Liczbińska, 1999, 2009, 2011; Nowak et al., 2011a,
2011b; Piontek, 1979; Piontek & Krenz, 1994; Wrzesińska &
Wrzesiński, 2002). In particular, researchers have focused on
measures of the opportunity for natural selection by differential
mortality, which in prehistoric and historical populations was
an excellent reflection of ecological conditions (e.g. Budnik,
2005; Henneberg, 1977; Liczbińska, 2009, 2011; Nowak et al.,
2009, 2011a, 2011b; Piontek, 1979; Piontek & Krenz, 1994;
Puch, 1993). It is highly interesting to analyse differential fer-
tility and differential mortality in indigenous groups which
ceased to exist at a certain moment. One of such groups on the
contemporary Polish territory was Slovincians, regarded by
some scholars and researchers as a subpopulation of Kashubians.
In this paper, using the classical Crow’s index, we want to
determine whether the disintegration of Slovincians was caused
by biological (environmental and adaptive) factors finally lead-
ing to disturbances in their reproductive strategy, or if it was
perhaps the impact of cultural (and/or political) factors which
caused them to lose their ethnic identity and migrate from the
home territory. Our study is a contribution to the understanding
of the biological history of “small nations” of Europe which
accelerates the processes of acculturation and disintegration.
Materials and Methods
Characteristics of the Slovincians Population
From the ethnographic point of view, Slovincians are a dis-
tinct ethnic group that used to inhabit the area between Lakes
Gardno and Łebsko (Figure 1), from the late 18th century to
the early 20th century surrounded by German settlements.
Some researchers, for example Witt (1933), argue that in the
past Slovincians could stand for a separate tribal group. On the
basis of his research conducted in the area of Smołdzino (Fig-
ure 1), Witt (1933) claimed that the local Rowokół hills could
be the locality of some prehistoric native ethnic group. His
opinion was corroborated by archaeological findings. This point
of view was also supported by Łęga (1930), who located the
Slovincian tribes in Western Pomerania.
Linguists have included Slovincians into the ethno-cultural
group which was part of the Kashubian population. Studies of
the dialects of the Pomeranian language have shown a very
close similarity between the Slovincian and Kashubian dialects.
Hilferding (1989) and Lorentz (1908-1912) placed Slovincian
in the Kashubian language group, and included the population
of Slovincians into indigenous Kashubians living in the past on
the territory between Lakes Gardno and Łebsko. The village of
Kluki (Figure 1), where once lived the majority of Slovincians,
was originally established from three separate settlements:
Kluki Smołdzińskie, Kluki Żelewskie, and Kluki Ciemińskie.
The fragmentary ethnographic research conducted among
Slovincians in the 19th century shows that they considered
themselves Kashubians of the Protestant denomination, in con-
trast to Kashubian Catholics, determined by the synonym of
“Poles” (Stelmachowska, 1963).
During the period of partitions, there took place a process of
denationalization of local territories, causing not only a de-
crease in the population of Slovincians, but also a disappear-
ance of their dialect. At the end of the 19th century only about
30 villages remained here (Dejna, 1973). After World War II,
several hundred Slovincians survived, and in the 1950s a little
over a hundred left Pomerania (Filip, 2012; Ostrowska & Tro-
janowska, 1978). The meeting of Poles coming from the east
with highly Germanized Slovincians demanding from the Pol-
ish authorities a permission to leave for Germany, ended in
failure. Some of them left Pomerania in the 1950s and 1960s
under the “family reunification” programme, and the last out-
flow of Slovincians to Germany occurred in the 1970s. At that
time 122 people left the above-mentioned village of Kluki,
including 57 mixed families.
Use was made of the material deposited in the archives of the
Institute of Anthropology at Adam Mickiewicz University in
Poznań. It was collected in the 1950s by Professor Franciszek
Wokroj (1958, 1960), who conducted systematic anthropologi-
cal studies of populations inhabiting the territory between the
rivers Łeba and Gardna Wielka. From the measuring cards
containing anthropometric data and the questionnaire, the fol-
lowing information was used: date and place of birth of re-
spondents, place of residence, number of siblings, number of
siblings who died before reaching the age of 14, and total
number of children in families. A total of 147 individuals were
examined, including 109 women and 38 men.
The research material was divided into two generations. A
turning point was the year 1900. The first generation encom-
passed all individuals born up to 1900, and the second one,
those born after 1900. The opportunity for natural selection was
calculated using the classical Crow’s index (1958). As is
known, this index has two components: an index of opportunity
for natural selection through differential mortality Im, and an
index of opportunity for natural selection through differential
fertility If, and is calculated according to the following formula:
in this formula mds
Pd: proportion of offspring deceased before reaching repro-
ductive age, which is 14 years; and
I=P P, where:
Ps: proportion of offspring reaching reproductive age
The second component of Crow’s index measures the opp-
ortunity for natural selection through differential fertility If, and
is calculated according to the formula:
where Vf is the variance of the number of offspring in complete
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
O. NOWAK ET AL.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 123
● Kashubians from Hel
Kashubians from Pomerania ●
● Colonists from Podkarpacie
● Podbeskidzie villages
was reflected in the stratification of the values of Crow’s index
in favour of rural areas. In the Catholic parish of St. Margaret in
the city of Poznań Im was higher than in the villages of Płużnica
Wielka and Wielkie Drogi, though it was very high in them too
(Liczbińska, 2011; Puch, 1993). In the 1950s and 1960s this
trend was reversed (Table 2). Generally speaking, along with
the improvement of sanitation, epidemiological conditions and
medical care that accompanied Central Europe’s entrance into
the second stage of demographic and epidemiological transition,
the values of Im index gradually decreased (Table 2). In the
populations of the 1980s and 1990s, Im values range from 0.06
to 0.29, which should not be surprising (Table 2; Budnik, 1996;
Berdychowski & Henneberg, 1978; Nowak et al., 2011a, 2011b;
Bolshakova & Revasov, 1988). The same was true for Slovin-
cians: here Im fell by half over two generations because, as was
mentioned earlier, the proportion of deceased infants and young
children dropped almost by a half (Table 1).
Płużnica Wielka ●
● Wielkie Drogi
territories (with the village of Kluki) against the populations
milies and x : the square of the arithmetic mean of the num-
data drawn from the lite-
Results and Discussion
The values ofl selection int-
of the number of offspring in complete families, the proportion of deceased, and the values of Crow’s index in the studied population.
ds fm f
In turn, the index of the opportunity for natural selection by
differential fertility proposed by Crow (1958) is the ratio of the
variance of the number of children in families to the square
mean number of live births. This index does not take into ac-
count the fertility of women who die before the end of their
reproductive cycle, but only those with a completed reproduc-
tion cycle. As was mentioned earlier, the If index does not al-
low separating differences in the number of offspring resulting
from the genetic background from that culturally modified. In
both generations of Slovincians there are no differences in the If
value, probably due to the lack of birth control in those groups.
Although both generations had some knowledge of birth con-
trol methods and agents, they did not use them consciously nor
planned the number of children in a family in advance. The
same was true in 19th-century Szczepanowo (Henneberg, 1980)
as well as Sub-Beskid and Sub-Carpathian villages from the
first half of the 20th century (Nowak et al., 2011a, 2011b),
Little Poland populations of the 1980s (Budnik & Przy-
byszewska, 1991), and Kashubians in the 1990s (Budnik, 1996;
Berdychowski & Henneberg, 1978). The European populations
from the comparable period presented in Table 2 generally did
not differ from Slovincians in terms of the If value, which
ranged from 0.28 (agricultural Camprodon; Torrejon & Ber-
tranpetit, 1987) to slightly over 0.5 (the rural population of
Lanciego; Alfonso-Sanchez et al., 2004). An exception was the
Swiss population of the 1960s (Spuhler, 1963). Here the If
value exceeded 1. Higher If figures were also noted in the rural
population of Pinega (the former Soviet Union; Bolshakova &
Revasov, 1988) and in the French populations of the 1960s
(Jacquard, 1974) (Table 2). A high value of If in these popula-
tions was probably due to differential fertility resulting from the
use of the methods and agents of birth control.
of historical and contemporary Poland.
ber of offspring in those families.
The results were compared with
ture for selected populations of historical and contemporary
Poland and Europe.
Im, If, and of the index of tota
sity calculated for both generations: that born up to 1900 and
at the beginning of the 20th century, are presented in Table 1.
What is striking is the significant difference in the Im values
between the two generations: higher in that born in the 19th
century than in the group born after 1900. It was confirmed by
the proportion of offspring deceased before reaching reproduc-
tive age Pd (d0-14; Table 1). A similar trend was observed at that
time in Pomerania (Budnik, 2005; Liczbińska, 1999, 2005).
Among individuals born in the late 19th century (1st genera-
tion), up to 31% of infants and young children did not live to
reproductive age, while in the next generation this proportion
fell by half (Table 1). In the 19th century the high mortality
rate of children reflected poor environmental conditions and a
very low level of medical care. Similarly high values of the Im
index were noted in rural populations of historical Polish terri-
tories and Europe (Table 2). In the 19th century the value of
Crow’s index due to differential mortality ranged from slightly
below 1, as in Szczepanowo in Greater Poland (Henneberg,
1980), to much above 1, as in the rural parish of Płużnica
Wielka in Silesia (the former Duchy of Prussia; Puch, 1993), or
the village of Wielkie Drogi in Little Poland (Puch, 1993; Ta-
ble 2). In the 19th and early 20th centuries, infant and child
mortality was lower in villages than in urban centres, which
Generally speaking, in the studied Slovincians the operation
of the opportunity for natural selection as measured by the clas-
sical Crow’s index was weak. This applies to both the selection
due to differential mortality and due to differential fertility.
Slovincians had poor birth control, suggesting a non-Malthu-
Generation Nx SD P PV x
1 6. 6 0 0. 0 st generation32 75 2.78 0.31 0.66 7.932.88.4617.63
2nd generation 116 6.02 2.82 0.17 0.82 7.74 59.90 0.21 0.22 0.43
O. NOWAK ET AL.
orical and contempory Poland and Europe.
ow’s index in the popValues of Cr
Population Type of population Period Im I
ulations of histar
Maragateria agricultural 1900 0.22 0. 0. Be4780rnis, 1974
Camprodon agricultural 1900 0.04 0,28 0.33 Torrejo87
Subges 1 Now1a
189 Alfonso, 2004
0. 0 Bolsha988
n & Bertranpetit, 19
Szczepanowo rural 65-1870.75 0.26 1.01 Henneberg, 1978
łużnica Wielka rural 1765-1899 1.661 0.14 1.80 Puch, 1993
Wielkie Drogi rural 1765-1899 1.311 0.13 1.44 Puch, 1993
-Carpathian villarural sthalf of 20thc. 0.41 0.23 0.64 ak et al., 201
Sub-Beskid colonists rural 20th c. 0.06 0.25 0.31 Nowak et al., 2011b
Kościerzyna rural 1970s 0.11 0.25 0.36 howski & Henneberg,
Wielkie Drogi rural 1980s 0.15 0.27 0.46 Jóźwiak, 1984
ubians, Hel Peninrural 1990s 0.29 0.09 0.38 Budnik, 1996
Kashubians, Pomerania rural 1990s 0.08 0.17 0.26 Budnik,1996
Lanciego rural 90-1940.22 0.52 0.87 -Sanchez et al.
nań, Catholurban 1855-1866 1.96 - - Liczbińska, 2011
Galich urban 1980s 0.10 37 .52kova & Revasov, 1
Sharia urban 1980s 0.11 0.36 0.51 Bolshakova & Revasov, 1988
France an + ru1900 0.26 0.84 1.32 Jacquard, 1974
witzerlan Urban + rural 00-1950.06 1.59 1.65 Spuhler, 1963
Wologoda rural 1980s 0.53 0.35 0.60 kova & Revasov
Pinega rural 1980s 0.19 0.82
1.79 Bolshakova & Revasov, 1988
sian nature of their fertility, and a decline in the mortality of
In the summary we at the anthropological
4) It seems, therefore, that the loss of ethnic identity by
Calderon, R., & Peňa J. A. (2004). Opportu-
nity for natural selection in a Basque population and its secular trend:
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immature individuals over time. Therefore we have no reason
to think there was a specific direction in which natural selection
operated in the studied population. It rather appears that the
main role in the gradual blur of the Slovincian identity and their
migration to Germany was played by many factors of a cultural
nature, present in the population already before World War I.
want to stress th
ta used in this study were sparse. Therefore the biological
dynamics described in this paper could differ slightly from the
factual state. In addition, it is worth emphasizing certain limita-
tions posed by Crow’s index, which we are aware of.
Despite the above reservations, the following conclusions
emerge from our study:
1) Slovincians were characterized by high fertility rates and
the related poor birth control, which points to the non-Malthu-
sian character of this population.
2) In the studied population there was a decrease in infant
and child mortality over time reflecting an improvement in
ecological conditions and medical care in the region.
3) The total selection intensity was very weak and did not
differ from that noted in the other regions of Poland and
Slovincians and their migration from the home territories was
due to the impact of many factors of a socio-political and an
economic nature rather than to their biological distinctness
resulting from a gene pool different from that in other areas of
Poland and Europe.
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