First families leave lasting impact

WASHINGTON (AP) ? The early French settlers left a permanent mark on the Canadian region of Quebec, new research shows.

A study shows that pioneers settling a new area tend to have larger families than folks who stay behind. As a result, these early arrival families left a large genetic footprint on subsequent residents.

An international team of researchers studied the population in a part of Quebec settled in the 17th and 18th centuries. They found that a large proportion of the people living in the Charlevoix Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area were descendants of those pioneering French-Canadians.

“We find that families who are at the forefront of a range expansion into new territories had a greater reproductive success,” said Damian Labuda of the University of Montreal.

Women in the group of early arrivals married about one year earlier than other women and had 15 percent more children.

Being first on the scene meant more land and resources were available for them, added Laurent Excoffier of the University of Bern, Switzerland.

The research, led by Labuda, Excoffier and Helene Vezina of the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi, was in Thursday’s online edition of the journal Science.