[Taxacom] 75% rule for subspecies recognition

Oliver Hawlitschek oliver.hawlitschek at gmx.de
Mon Jul 4 03:30:42 CDT 2011

Dear all,

I have a question concerning the 75% rule for subspecies recognition. It says that a subspecies should be considered valid if 75% or more of a certain sample of individuals (a potential subspecies or operational taxonomic unit) can be distinguished from 99% of all other individuals of the same species according to the characters examined (Amadon 1949, Mayr et al. 1953, Patten and Unitt 2002).

How could I handle a case of sexually dimorphic species in which only males can be recognized at subspecies level, but not females? Does that mean that <50% of the species can be recognized and the subspecies should be dismissed (<75%), or could I restrict the 75% rule to the distinguishable sex (males)? I would be happy to read of any examples of similar cases.


Oliver Hawlitschek
Bavarian State Collection of Zoology
Muenchhausenstr. 21
81247 Munich

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