Forum Paper

Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 249-252

First online:

Species delimitations – not ‘only descriptive’

  • Gerhard HaszprunarAffiliated withZoologische Staatssammlung MünchenDepartment of Biology I and GeoBio-Center, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich Email author 

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Species descriptions as well as all other kinds of species delimitations within revisionary work are not ‘only descriptive’, as is often stated, but include several genuinely scientific, i.e. potentially falsifiable hypotheses: (1) The specimens under study represent a new or so far incorrectly defined species; (2) the phylogenetic position of the newly defined species; (3) descriptive terms, which are themselves hypotheses of homology (orthology) and/or function, regardless of whether they are of phenotypic or genotypic nature. Accordingly, species delimitations are genuine scientific hypotheses and thus should be cited in the same way as regularly done with all other previous scientific hypotheses on which a paper is based.


Species description Species delimitation Revision Taxonomy Hypothesis Citations