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biosystematicsBiosystematik (ger.)

  • The classification of organisms using evidence from genetic, cytological, and ecological studies of populations (in addition to morphological and geographical data). (OED 2011)

    In general there is an historical evolution of our knowledge of species. At first the assembled specimens are given almost no critical study. This is the exploratory phase of systematics. The next phase, a critical consideration mainly on the basis of herbarium material, results in a Systematic Study. Here the student will realize that the species of a group differ in their internal complexity and may wish to recognize subspecific entities. The third phase is a study in Biosystematy, wherein the population is given not only morphological and [in] biogeographical consideration, but is also subjected to genetic analyses. In such a study, the student can analyze a population and place its many segments in their proper relationships and is thus better able to delimit species

    Camp, W.H. & Gilly, C.L. (1941). Biosystematy and the concept of the species (Abstract). Amer. J. Bot. 28, 18s.


    In his decision on which segments of the world’s biota are to be called species the systematist must approach the problem from the analytical standpoint. He must, if he works in biosystematy, first analyze a population in order to ascertain not only its minor genetic segments but also the manner in which they react upon each other. Having learned this he then can turn to the problem of determilning in what manner these genetic segments, working singly or in multiples, are combined to form a system which is not only biologically reproductive but morphologically repetitive. And it is the results of the morphological expression of these genetic systems which constitute the fundamental species.

    Camp, W.H. & Gilly, C.L. (1943). The structure and origin of species. Brittonia 4, 323-385: 333.


    Several terms have been applied to such studies; they have been variously described as the ‘new’ systematics, as biosystematics and as population genetics.

    Epling, C. (1943). Taxonomy and genonomy. Science 98, 515-516: 516.


    Biosystematy seeks (1) to delimit the natural biotic units and (2) to apply to these units a system of nomenclature adequate to the task of conveying precise information regarding their defined limits, relationships, variability, and dynamic structure.

    Camp, W.H. (1951). Biosystematy. Brittonia 7, 113-127: 113.