We analyze the statistical properties of genealogical trees in a neutral model of a closed population with sexual reproduction and nonoverlapping generations. By reconstructing the genealogy of an individual from the population evolution, we measure the distribution of ancestors appearing more than once in a given tree. After a transient time, the probability of repetition follows, up to a rescaling, a stationary distribution which we calculate both numerically and analytically. This distribution exhibits a universal shape with a nontrivial power law which can be understood by an exact, though simple, renormalization calculation. Some real data on human genealogy illustrate the problem, which is relevant to the study of the real degree of diversity in closed interbreeding communities.
- Received 14 October 1998
©1999 American Physical Society