Using the isolation-by-distance model as an example, we have examined several assumptions of spatial autocorrelation analysis applied to gene frequency surfaces. Gene frequency surfaces generated by a simulation of Wright's isolation-by-distance model were shown to exhibit spatial autocorrelation, except in the panmictic case. Identical stochastic generating processes result in surfaces with characteristics that are functions of the process parameters, such as parental vagility and neighborhood size. Differences in these parameters are detectable as differences in spatial autocorrelations after only a few generations of the simulations. Separate realizations of processes with identical parameters yield similar spatial correlograms. We have examined the inferences about population structure that could have been made from these observations if they had been real, rather than simulated, populations. From such inferences, we could have drawn conclusions about the presence of selection, migration and drift in given natural systems.
- Received February 25, 1983.
- Accepted May 23, 1983.