Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My First Impressions of AncestryDNA's Genetic Communities

I first heard about AncestryDNA's  genetic communities from the Roots Tech live stream in February. The communities were said to use Ancestry's large genetic data collection to group people according to locations, based on genetic data. These groups are called communities. Some communities are both regional and ethnically based.

I have to say I was disappointed when I finally saw my own results yesterday. I was disappointed because we were told of the possibility of finding unknown information, or additional confirmation of our lineages. I learned nothing new personally.

The biggest problem I see so far is much of what is illustrated on the maps presented basically just shows migrations of your cousins. Not information about your own ancestors.

Here is an example of the information provided for my mother:


She has two communities Early Settlers of the Lower Mideast & Virginia, and Settlers of the Alleghenies & Northeast Indiana. The dots reflect mostly migrations of my mother's cousins. Her father's, Charles Forgey's, distant ancestors generally arrived in America through Pennsylvania prior to the Revolutionary War. All of his ancestors ended up in Indiana by 1820. My mother's genetic map covers all of those places. Dots also cover Missouri and Arkansas. Places my mother's ancestors never lived. Her distant cousins settled in those states. This could be confusing for people who don't know their ancestry.

I would like to see subgroupings for my mother. The lack of subgroups means the information as it stands is useless. The area covered is too broad. Odd my mom doesn't have an Indiana subgroup because her ancestors were all in Indiana by the 1820's, and some before that even? Her father was born in Indiana too. The family had been living in the Jackson County area of Indiana for 80, and more, years before my grandfather was born.

My mother's communities reflects half of her ancestry. Her mother being Nicaraguan. Oddly my mother isn't in the Nicaraguan community?

The fact my mother's father had early American roots seemed to help with the quality of her genetic community results. My results only cover a very small slice of my Ancestry. This presents a problems for adoptees and others who know very little about their heritage. They might assume the map shows all places of origin of  their ancestors, or at least a significant portion. My communities reflect about 20% of my heritage. So 80% of my ancestral heritage isn't shown.

Here is what I got:

Unlike my mother I have no American communities. I also have two regions or communities. One is for Connacht, Ireland and the other Quebec, Canada, i.e.  French Settlers Along the St. Lawrence. My great grandmother Helen Mullen-Mason was born in Galway, Ireland. This result reflects one of 8 great-grandparents. My great-great grandfather Peter (Pierre) Mason (Masson) was French Canadian. The Quebec result reflects one of 16 great-great grandparents. So like I said about 80% of my ancestry isn't represent.

The genetic community results are correct for my mother and I. However all of our ancestry isn't represented. In my case only a very small fraction. The cautions when looking at these results are they reflect migrations of cousins, and may represent as little as 1/8 of your heritage. After seeing these maps myself I felt more of a connection with the two regions than I really have lol.

It's hoped with more testers the results will get better? I think this will always be a better tool for some than others. There will always be groups underrepresented since everyone in the world won't test with AncestryDNA. It may get much better for those with a great deal of early American ancestry, because that group tends to test more.

1 comment:

Wendy Anderson said...

I agree, very disappointing results for me. My husband community is in Norway. Funny thing is his DNA doesn't even show Norwegian. Even though we know his paternal line immigrated from Norway and I am in contact with family that is still in Norway. So no Norwegian in his ethnic estimate but a Norwegian community. Somehow this doesn't add up. And like you, this community is a tiny piece of his heritage. He has one Norwegian great grandfather. I on the other hand have 3 US community groups. Nothing elsewhere even though I know of more recent immigration from Europe.