Blackwell Publishing

Quantitative genetics - What exactly is heritability?


Heritability has an easy intuitive meaning

Consider a parent that differs from the population by a certain amount. If its offspring also deviate by the same amount, heritability is one; if the offspring have the same mean as the population, heritability is zero; if the offspring deviate from the mean in the same direction as their parents but to a lesser extent, heritability is between zero and one. Heritability, therefore, is the quantitative extent to which offspring resemble their parents, relative to the population mean. So how can we estimate the heritability of a real character?

The geneticist Linda Partridge gives her own definition of the concept of heritability.

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