Royal Society Publishing

Least-inclusive taxonomic unit: a new taxonomic concept for biology

Abstract

Phylogenetic taxonomy has been introduced as a replacement for the Linnaean system. It differs from traditional nomenclature in defining taxon names with reference to phylogenetic trees and in not employing ranks for supraspecific taxa. However, ‘species’ are currently kept distinct. Within a system of phylogenetic taxonomy we believe that taxon names should refer to monophyletic groups only and that species should not be recognized as taxa. To distinguish the smallest identified taxa, we here introduce the least–inclusive taxonomic unit (LITU), which are differentiated from more inclusive taxa by initial lower–case letters. LITUs imply nothing absolute about inclusiveness, only that subdivisions are not presently recognized.

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