Sociology, Department of


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Remember that family trees are a type of network. The network we create helps us understand which traits were passed down and who they came from. While humans can inherit traits like hair color and eye shape, sometimes they can inherit genetic diseases or be more likely to develop health issues because of their genetics. In most cases, inherited traits are based on probability, so tracing family networks can tell us how likely people are to have these types of diseases. When tracing the genealogical flow of relatedness from one generation to the next one or two generations, it is easy to see how family members from different generations are connected by shared traits.

When trying to trace the flow of relatedness on a larger scale - for example, across centuries or for a whole population - network science can help illustrate patterns of inheritance. For example, why do some traits occur together?