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operational taxonomic unitoperationale taxonomische Einheit (ger.)

  • (OTU) In phylogenetics, any of the data sets under examination. During the tree-building process, OTUs may become combined into a composite which is then treated as a single OTU. (Oxford Dict. of Ecology 2011)

    The lowest ranked units possible [for classification by numerical taxonomy] would be individuals, which could be clustered to form groups of individuals phenetically resembling each other and representing infraspecific taxa, if all the individuals concerned were conspecific. Higher taxonomic entities, such as genera, tribes or families, could be used as units in a taxonomic study and they could be grouped to form still higher taxa. Sokal and Sneath (book, in preparation) have therefore called the lowest taxonomic unit being classified in any given study an operational taxonomic unit (OTU). These OUT’s conventionally represent the tips of the dendrogram in any given study.

    Sokal, R.R. & Rohlf, F.J. (1962). The comparison of dendrograms by objective methods. Taxon 11, 33-40: 34.


    we shall use the term operational taxonomic unit (OTU) for the unit that is to be classified without defining it further here

    Sokal, R.R. & Sneath, P.H.A. (1963). Principles of Numerical Taxonomy: 111.