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Classification below the species level: when are infraspecific groups biologically meaningful?
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society  (IF2.138),  Pub Date : 2021-05-26, DOI: 10.1093/biolinnean/blab067
Reydon T, Kunz W.

Infraspecific taxa (subspecies, races and varieties) are often seen as real entities in nature and recognized as biologically meaningful groups. But because infraspecific taxa by definition are subdivisions of species, their status depends entirely on the status of ‘their’ species. This makes the status of infraspecific taxa crucially dependent on the way species are considered and thus on the various species concepts that have been advanced as answers to the ‘species problem’. Accordingly, there is a profound lack of clarity regarding the following questions. What are infraspecific taxa? What is their biological meaning? Are they real entities or merely instrumental units? When should an infraspecific group be ranked and named as an infraspecific taxon? In this paper, we aim to contribute to greater clarity about these issues by examining which types of infraspecific groups are biologically meaningful in light of the main results from the species debate.