In biological classification, the term subspecies refers to one of two or more populations of a species living in different subdivisions of the species' range and varying from one another by morphological characteristics.[2][3] A single subspecies cannot be recognized independently: a species is either recognized as having no subspecies at all or at least two, including any that are extinct. The term is abbreviated subsp. in botany and bacteriology, ssp. in zoology. The plural is the same as the singular: subspecies.

In zoology, under the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, the subspecies is the only taxonomic rank below that of species that can receive a name. In botany and mycology, under the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, other infraspecific ranks, such as variety, may be named. In bacteriology and virology, under standard bacterial nomenclature and virus nomenclature, there are recommendations but not strict requirements for recognizing other important infraspecific ranks.

A taxonomist decides whether to recognize a subspecies or not. A common criterion for recognizing two distinct populations as subspecies rather than full species is the ability of them to interbreed without a fitness penalty. In the wild, subspecies do not interbreed due to geographic isolation or sexual selection. The differences between subspecies are usually less distinct than the differences between species.

Ceylon paradise flycatcher (female) - Sri Lanka - 02
Ceylon paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi ceylonensis), an Indian paradise flycatcher subspecies native to Sri Lanka
Leopard africa
African leopard (Panthera pardus pardus), the nominotypical (nominate) leopard subspecies native to Africa[1]
Sumatran Tiger 4 (6964676168)
Sumatran tiger (P. tigris sondaica), a tiger subspecies native to the Sunda islands[1]


In zoology, the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (4th edition, 1999) accepts only one rank below that of species, namely the rank of subspecies.[4] Other groupings, "infrasubspecific entities" do not have names regulated by the ICZN. Such forms have no official ICZN status, though they may be useful in describing altitudinal or geographical clines, pet breeds, transgenic animals, etc. While the scientific name of a species is a binomen, the scientific name of a subspecies is a trinomen - a binomen followed by a subspecific name. A tiger's binomen is Panthera tigris, so for a Sumatran tiger the trinomen is, for example, Panthera tigris sumatrae. Subspecies is generally abbreviated as "ssp." in zoology, but is not used in scientific name.

In botany, subspecies is one of many ranks below that of species, such as variety, subvariety, form, and subform. The subspecific name is preceded by "subsp.", as in Schoenoplectus californicus subsp. tatora. A botanical name consists of at most three parts. An infraspecific name includes the species binomial, and one infraspecific epithet, such as subspecies or variety.[5]

In bacteriology, the only rank below species that is regulated explicitly by the code of nomenclature is subspecies, but infrasubspecific taxa are extremely important in bacteriology; Appendix 10 of the code lays out some recommendations that are intended to encourage uniformity in describing such taxa. Names published before 1992 in the rank of variety are taken to be names of subspecies[6] (see International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes). As in botany, subspecies is conventionally abbreviated as "subsp.", and is used in the scientific name: Bacillus subtilis subsp. spizizenii.[7]

Nominotypical subspecies and subspecies autonyms

In zoological nomenclature, when a species is split into subspecies, the originally described population is retained as the "nominotypical subspecies"[8] or "nominate subspecies", which repeats the same name as the species. For example, Motacilla alba alba (often abbreviated M. a. alba) is the nominotypical subspecies of the white wagtail (Motacilla alba).

The subspecies name that repeats the species name is referred to in botanical nomenclature as the subspecies "autonym", and the subspecific taxon as the "autonymous subspecies".[9]

Doubtful cases

When zoologists disagree over whether a certain population is a subspecies or a full species, the species name may be written in parentheses. Thus Larus (argentatus) smithsonianus means the American herring gull; the notation within the parentheses means that some consider it a subspecies of a larger herring gull species and therefore call it Larus argentatus smithsonianus, while others consider it a full species and therefore call it Larus smithsonianus (and the user of the notation is not taking a position).


A subspecies is a taxonomic rank below species – the only recognized rank in the zoological code,[10] and one of three main ranks below species in the botanical code.[9] When geographically separate populations of a species exhibit recognizable phenotypic differences, biologists may identify these as separate subspecies; a subspecies is a recognized local variant of a species.[11] Botanists and mycologists have the choice of ranks lower than subspecies, such as variety (varietas) or form (forma), to recognize smaller differences between populations.[9]

Monotypic and polytypic species

One horn Rhino in Kaziranga national park
The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is a monotypic species

In biological terms, rather than in relation to nomenclature, a polytypic species has two or more genetically and phenotypically divergent subspecies, races, or more generally speaking, populations that differ from each other so that a separate description is warranted.[12] These distinct groups do not interbreed as they are isolated from another, but which can interbreed and have fertile offspring, e.g. in captivity. These subspecies, races, or populations, are usually described and named by zoologists, botanists and microbiologists.

In a monotypic species, all populations exhibit the same genetic and phenotypical characteristics. Monotypic species can occur in several ways:

  • All members of the species are very similar and cannot be sensibly divided into biologically significant subcategories.
  • The individuals vary considerably, but the variation is essentially random and largely meaningless so far as genetic transmission of these variations is concerned.
  • The variation among individuals is noticeable and follows a pattern, but there are no clear dividing lines among separate groups: they fade imperceptibly into one another. Such clinal variation always indicates substantial gene flow among the apparently separate groups that make up the population(s). Populations that have a steady, substantial gene flow among them are likely to represent a monotypic species, even when a fair degree of genetic variation is obvious.

See also


  1. ^ a b Kitchener, A. C.; Breitenmoser-Würsten, C.; Eizirik, E.; Gentry, A.; Werdelin, L.; Wilting, A.; Yamaguchi, N.; Abramov, A. V.; Christiansen, P.; Driscoll, C.; Duckworth, J. W.; Johnson, W.; Luo, S.-J.; Meijaard, E.; O’Donoghue, P.; Sanderson, J.; Seymour, K.; Bruford, M.; Groves, C.; Hoffmann, M.; Nowell, K.; Timmons, Z.; Tobe, S. (2017). "A revised taxonomy of the Felidae: The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group" (PDF). Cat News. Special Issue 11: 66−69.
  2. ^ Mayr, E. (1982). "Of what use are subspecies?". The Auk (99 (3)): 593−595.
  3. ^ Monroe, B. L. (1982). "A modern concept of the subspecies". The Auk (99 (3)): 608−609.
  4. ^ "Index". International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Fourth Edition. Natural History Museum. January 1, 2000. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  5. ^ James, Mallet. "Subspecies, semispecies, superspecies" (PDF). Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Chapter 3: Rules of Nomenclature with Recommendations". National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  7. ^ Parker, Charles T.; Tindall, Brian J.; Garrity, George M. (20 November 2015) [2008]. "International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (2008 Revision)". International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (ICSP Matters ed.). 69. "Names of Subspecies: Rule 13a". doi:10.1099/ijsem.0.000778. PMID 26596770. Full text available from PDF link at this page; direct URL to PDF is auto-generated and expires.
  8. ^ International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, Art. 47
  9. ^ a b c McNeill, J.; Barrie, F. R.; Buck, W. R.; Demoulin, V.; Greuter, W.; Hawksworth, D. L.; Herendeen, P. S.; Knapp, S.; Marhold, K.; Prado, J.; Prud'homme Van Reine, W.F.; Smith, G. F.; Wiersema, J. H.; Turland, N. J. (2012). International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Melbourne Code) adopted by the Eighteenth International Botanical Congress Melbourne, Australia, July 2011. Regnum Vegetabile 154. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag KG. ISBN 978-3-87429-425-6.
  10. ^ Rosenberg, Gary; et al. (eds.). "ICZN Glossary". International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature.
  11. ^ Russell, Peter J.; Hertz, Paul E.; McMillan, Beverly (2011). "21: Speciation". Biology: The Dynamic Science. Brooks/Cole California. p. 456. ISBN 978-1133418849.
  12. ^ Mayr, E. (1970). Populations, Species, and Evolution: An Abridgment of Animal Species and Evolution. Harvard University Press.
  • Barrow, Mark V. (1998). A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology after Audubon. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691044026.
  • Lewis, Daniel (2012). The Feathery Tribe: Robert Ridgway and the Modern Study of Birds. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300175523.
  • Mayr, E.; Ashlock, P. D. (1991). Principles of Systematic Zoology (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Inc. ISBN 978-0-07-041144-9.
African buffalo

The African buffalo or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a large Sub-Saharan African bovine. Syncerus caffer caffer, the Cape buffalo, is the typical subspecies, and the largest one, found in Southern and East Africa. S. c. nanus (African forest buffalo) is the smallest subspecies, common in forest areas of Central and West Africa, while S. c. brachyceros is in West Africa and S. c. aequinoctialis is in the savannas of East Africa. The adult buffalo's horns are its characteristic feature: they have fused bases, forming a continuous bone shield across the top of the head referred to as a "boss". They are widely regarded as among the most dangerous animals on the African continent, and according to some estimates they gore, trample, and kill over 200 people every year.

The African buffalo is not an ancestor of domestic cattle and is only distantly related to other larger bovines. Its unpredictable temperament means that the African buffalo has never been domesticated, unlike its Asian counterpart, the water buffalo. African Cape buffaloes have few predators aside from lions and large crocodiles. As a member of the big five game, the Cape buffalo is a sought-after trophy in hunting.

Cantabrian capercaillie

The Cantabrian capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus cantabricus) is a subspecies of the western capercaillie in the grouse family Tetraonidae. It is one of two subspecies found in Spain.


Deer (singular and plural) are the hoofed ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the Cervinae, including the muntjac, the elk (wapiti), the fallow deer, and the chital; and the Capreolinae, including the reindeer (caribou), the roe deer, and the moose. Female reindeer, and male deer of all species except the Chinese water deer, grow and shed new antlers each year. In this they differ from permanently horned antelope, which are part of a different family (Bovidae) within the same order of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla).

The musk deer (Moschidae) of Asia and chevrotains (Tragulidae) of tropical African and Asian forests are separate families within the ruminant clade (Ruminantia). They are no more closely related to deer than are other even-toed ungulates.

Deer appear in art from Paleolithic cave paintings onwards, and they have played a role in mythology, religion, and literature throughout history, as well as in heraldry. Their economic importance includes the use of their meat as venison, their skins as soft, strong buckskin, and their antlers as handles for knives. Deer hunting has been a popular activity since at least the Middle Ages and remains a resource for many families today.


The elk or wapiti (Cervus canadensis) is one of the largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in North America and Northeast Asia. This animal should not be confused with the still larger moose (Alces alces) to which the name "elk" applies in British English and in reference to populations in Eurasia.

Elk range in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves, and bark. Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Males also engage in ritualized mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling (sparring), and bugling, a loud series of vocalizations that establishes dominance over other males and attracts females.

Although they are native to North America and eastern Asia, they have adapted well to countries in which they have been introduced, including Argentina and New Zealand. Their great adaptability may threaten endemic species and ecosystems into which they have been introduced.

Elk are susceptible to a number of infectious diseases, some of which can be transmitted to livestock. Efforts to eliminate infectious diseases from elk populations, largely by vaccination, have had mixed success.

Some cultures revere the elk as a spiritual force. In parts of Asia, antlers and their velvet are used in traditional medicines. Elk are hunted as a game species. The meat is leaner and higher in protein than beef or chicken.Elk were long believed to belong to a subspecies of the European red deer (Cervus elaphus), but evidence from many mitochondrial DNA genetic studies beginning in 1998 shows that the two are distinct species. Key morphological differences that distinguish C. canadensis from C. elaphus are the former's wider rump patch and paler-hued antlers.

Endangered species

An endangered species is a species which has been categorized as very likely to become extinct. Endangered (EN), as categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, is the second most severe conservation status for wild populations in the IUCN's schema after Critically Endangered (CR).

In 2012, the IUCN Red List featured 3,079 animal and 2,655 plant species as endangered (EN) worldwide. The figures for 1998 were, respectively, 1,102 and 1,197.

Many nations have laws that protect conservation-reliant species: for example, forbidding hunting, restricting land development or creating protected areas. Population numbers, trends and species' conservation status can be found at the lists of organisms by population.

Golden eagle

The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one of the best-known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the most widely distributed species of eagle. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their napes. Immature eagles of this species typically have white on the tail and often have white markings on the wings. Golden eagles use their agility and speed combined with powerful feet and massive, sharp talons to snatch up a variety of prey, mainly hares, rabbits, marmots and other ground squirrels.Golden eagles maintain home ranges or territories that may be as large as 200 km2 (77 sq mi). They build large nests in cliffs and other high places to which they may return for several breeding years. Most breeding activities take place in the spring; they are monogamous and may remain together for several years or possibly for life. Females lay up to four eggs, and then incubate them for six weeks. Typically, one or two young survive to fledge in about three months. These juvenile golden eagles usually attain full independence in the fall, after which they wander widely until establishing a territory for themselves in four to five years.

Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many areas which are now more heavily populated by humans. Despite being extirpated from or uncommon in some of its former range, the species is still widespread, being present in sizeable stretches of Eurasia, North America, and parts of North Africa. It is the largest and least populous of the five species of true accipitrid to occur as a breeding species in both the Palearctic and the Nearctic.For centuries, this species has been one of the most highly regarded birds used in falconry. Due to its hunting prowess, the golden eagle is regarded with great mystic reverence in some ancient, tribal cultures. It is one of the most extensively studied species of raptor in the world in some parts of its range, such as the Western United States and the Western Palearctic.

Human taxonomy

Human taxonomy is the classification of the human species (systematic name Homo sapiens, Latin: "knowing man") within zoological taxonomy. The systematic genus, Homo, is designed to include both anatomically modern humans and extinct varieties of archaic humans. Current humans have been designated as subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens, differentiated from the direct ancestor, Homo sapiens idaltu.

Since the introduction of systematic names in the 18th century, knowledge of human evolution has increased drastically, and a number of intermediate taxa have been proposed in the 20th to early 21st century. The most widely accepted taxonomy groups takes the genus Homo as originating between two and three million years ago, divided into at least two species, archaic Homo erectus and modern Homo sapiens, with about a dozen further suggestions for species without universal recognition.

The genus Homo is placed in the tribe Hominini alongside Pan (chimpanzees). The two genera are estimated to have diverged over an extended time of hybridization spanning roughly 10 to 6 million years ago, with possible admixture as late as 4 million years ago. A subtribe of uncertain validity, grouping archaic "pre-human" or "para-human" species younger than the Homo-Pan split is Australopithecina (proposed in 1939).

A proposal by Wood and Richmond (2000) would introduce Hominina as a subtribe alongside Australopithecina, with Homo the only known genus within Hominina. Alternatively, following Cela-Conde and Ayala (2003), the "pre-human" or "proto-human" genera of Australopithecus, Ardipithecus, Praeanthropus, and possibly Sahelanthropus may be placed on equal footing alongside the genus Homo. An even more radical view rejects the division of Pan and Homo as separate genera, which based on the Principle of Priority would imply the re-classification of chimpanzees as Homo paniscus (or similar).Prior to the current scientific classification of humans, philosophers and scientists have made various attempts to classify humans. They offered definitions of the human being and schemes for classifying types of humans. Biologists once classified races as subspecies, but today anthropologists reject the concept of race and view humanity as an interrelated genetic continuum. Taxonomy of the hominins continues to evolve.

IUCN Red List

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (also known as the IUCN Red List or Red Data List), founded in 1965, has evolved to become the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. It uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. These criteria are relevant to all species and all regions of the world. With its strong scientific base, the IUCN Red List is recognized as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity. A series of Regional Red List are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit.

The IUCN Red List is set upon precise criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. These criteria are relevant to all species and all regions of the world. The aim is to convey the urgency of conservation issues to the public and policy makers, as well as help the international community to try to reduce species extinction. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (1996), the formally stated goals of the Red List are (1) to provide scientifically based information on the status of species and subspecies at a global level, (2) to draw attention to the magnitude and importance of threatened biodiversity, (3) to influence national and international policy and decision-making, and (4) to provide information to guide actions to conserve biological diversity.Major species assessors include BirdLife International, the Institute of Zoology (the research division of the Zoological Society of London), the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, and many Specialist Groups within the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC). Collectively, assessments by these organizations and groups account for nearly half the species on the Red List.

The IUCN aims to have the category of every species re-evaluated every five years if possible, or at least every ten years. This is done in a peer reviewed manner through IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Specialist Groups, which are Red List Authorities responsible for a species, group of species or specific geographic area, or in the case of BirdLife International, an entire class (Aves).As of 2018, 26,197 species are now classified as vulnerable, critical or endangered.

Least-concern species

A least concern (LC) species is a species which has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as evaluated as not being a focus of species conservation. They do not qualify as threatened, near threatened, or (before 2001) conservation dependent.

Species cannot be assigned the Least Concern category unless they have had their population status evaluated. That is, adequate information is needed to make a direct, or indirect, assessment of its risk of extinction based on its distribution or population status.

Since 2001 the category has had the abbreviation "LC", following the IUCN 2001 Categories & Criteria (version 3.1). However, around 20% of least concern taxa (3261 of 15636) in the IUCN database use the code "LR/lc", which indicates they have not been re-evaluated since 2000. Before 2001 "least concern" was a subcategory of the "Lower Risk" category and assigned the code "LR/lc" or lc.

While "least concern" is not considered a red listed category by the IUCN, the 2006 IUCN Red List still assigns the category to 15636 taxa. The number of animal species listed in this category totals 14033 (which includes several undescribed species such as a frog from the genus Philautus). There are also 101 animal subspecies listed and 1500 plant taxa (1410 species, 55 subspecies, and 35 varieties). There are also two animal subpopulations listed: the Australasian and Southern African subpopulations of spiny dogfish. No fungi or protista have the classification, though only four species in those kingdoms have been evaluated by the IUCN. Humans qualify for this category, and in 2008 were formally assessed as such by the IUCN.

List of recently extinct bird species

This page refers only to birds that have gone extinct since 1500; for the list of birds known only from fossils, see List of fossil bird genera. For birds extinct in Late Quaternary prehistoric times and usually known from specimens not completely fossilized, see List of Late Quaternary prehistoric bird species.Over 190 species of birds have become extinct since 1500, and the rate of extinction seems to be increasing. The situation is exemplified by Hawaii, where 30% of all known recently extinct bird taxa originally lived. Other areas, such as Guam, have also been hit hard; Guam has lost over 60% of its native bird taxa in the last 30 years, many of them due to the introduced brown tree snake.

Currently there are approximately 10,000 living species of birds, with an estimated 1,200 considered to be under threat of extinction.

Island species in general, and flightless island species in particular, are most at risk. The disproportionate number of rails in the list reflects the tendency of that family to lose the ability to fly when geographically isolated. Even more rails became extinct before they could be described by scientists; these taxa are listed in List of Late Quaternary prehistoric bird species.

The extinction dates given below are usually approximations of the actual date of extinction. In some cases, more exact dates are given as it is sometimes possible to pinpoint the date of extinction to a specific year or even day (the San Benedicto rock wren is possibly the most extreme example—its extinction could be timed with an accuracy of maybe half an hour). Extinction dates in the literature are usually the dates of the last verified record (credible observation or specimen taken); for many Pacific birds that became extinct shortly after European contact, however, this leaves an uncertainty period of over a century, because the islands on which they lived were only rarely visited by scientists.

Monotypic taxon

In biology, a monotypic taxon is a taxonomic group (taxon) that contains only one immediately subordinate taxon.A monotypic species is one that does not include subspecies or smaller, infraspecific taxa. In the case of genera, the term "unispecific" or "monospecific" is sometimes preferred.

In botanical nomenclature, a monotypic genus is a genus in the special case where a genus and a single species are simultaneously described.In contrast an oligotypic taxon contains more than one but only a very few subordinate taxa.

Peregrine falcon

The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), also known as the peregrine, and historically as the duck hawk in North America, is a widespread bird of prey (raptor) in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-grey back, barred white underparts, and a black head. It is believed to be the fastest bird in the world. According to a National Geographic TV programme, the highest measured speed of a peregrine falcon is 389 km/h (242 mph). As is typical of bird-eating raptors, peregrine falcons are sexually dimorphic, with females being considerably larger than males. The peregrine is renowned for its speed, reaching over 320 km/h (200 mph) during its characteristic hunting stoop (high-speed dive), making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom.The peregrine's breeding range includes land regions from the Arctic tundra to the tropics. It can be found nearly everywhere on Earth, except extreme polar regions, very high mountains, and most tropical rainforests; the only major ice-free landmass from which it is entirely absent is New Zealand. This makes it the world's most widespread raptor, and one of the most widely found bird species. In fact, the only land-based bird species found over a larger geographic area is not always naturally occurring, but one widely introduced by humans, the rock pigeon, which in turn now supports many peregrine populations as a prey species. The peregrine is a highly successful example of urban wildlife in much of its range, taking advantage of tall buildings as nest sites and an abundance of prey such as pigeons and ducks. Both the English and scientific names of this species mean "wandering falcon," referring to the migratory habits of many northern populations. Experts recognize 17 to 19 subspecies, which vary in appearance and range; disagreement exists over whether the distinctive Barbary falcon is represented by two subspecies of Falco peregrinus, or is a separate species, F. pelegrinoides. The two species' divergence is relatively recent, during the time of the last ice age, therefore the genetic differential between them (and also the difference in their appearance) is relatively tiny. They are only about 0.6–0.8% genetically differentiated.While its diet consists almost exclusively of medium-sized birds, the peregrine will occasionally hunt small mammals, small reptiles, or even insects. Reaching sexual maturity at one year, it mates for life and nests in a scrape, normally on cliff edges or, in recent times, on tall human-made structures. The peregrine falcon became an endangered species in many areas because of the widespread use of certain pesticides, especially DDT. Since the ban on DDT from the early 1970s, populations have recovered, supported by large-scale protection of nesting places and releases to the wild.The peregrine falcon is a well respected falconry bird due to its strong hunting ability, high trainability, versatility, and – in recent years – availability via captive breeding. It is effective on most game bird species, from small to large.


Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents. Species of rats are found throughout the order Rodentia, but stereotypical rats are found in the genus Rattus. Other rat genera include Neotoma (pack rats), Bandicota (bandicoot rats) and Dipodomys (kangaroo rats).

Rats are typically distinguished from mice by their size. Generally, when someone discovers a large muroid rodent, its common name includes the term rat, while if it is smaller, its name includes the term mouse. The common terms rat and mouse are not taxonomically specific. In other words, rat is not a scientific term; if it were, all rats would belong to the genus Rattus.

Red fox

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the largest of the true foxes and one of the most widely distributed members of the order Carnivora, being present across the entire Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, North America and Eurasia. It is listed as least concern by the IUCN. Its range has increased alongside human expansion, having been introduced to Australia, where it is considered harmful to native mammals and bird populations. Due to its presence in Australia, it is included on the list of the "world's 100 worst invasive species".The red fox originated from smaller-sized ancestors from Eurasia during the Middle Villafranchian period, and colonised North America shortly after the Wisconsin glaciation. Among the true foxes, the red fox represents a more progressive form in the direction of carnivory. Apart from its large size, the red fox is distinguished from other fox species by its ability to adapt quickly to new environments. Despite its name, the species often produces individuals with other colourings, including leucistic and melanistic individuals. Forty-five subspecies are currently recognised, which are divided into two categories: the large northern foxes, and the small, basal southern foxes of Asia and North Africa.Red foxes are usually together in pairs or small groups consisting of families, such as a mated pair and their young, or a male with several females having kinship ties. The young of the mated pair remain with their parents to assist in caring for new kits. The species primarily feeds on small rodents, though it may also target rabbits, game birds, reptiles, invertebrates and young ungulates. Fruit and vegetable matter is also eaten sometimes. Although the red fox tends to kill smaller predators, including other fox species, it is vulnerable to attack from larger predators, such as wolves, coyotes, golden jackals and medium- and large-sized felines.The species has a long history of association with humans, having been extensively hunted as a pest and furbearer for many centuries, as well as being represented in human folklore and mythology. Because of its widespread distribution and large population, the red fox is one of the most important furbearing animals harvested for the fur trade. Too small to pose a threat to humans, it has extensively benefited from the presence of human habitation, and has successfully colonised many suburban and urban areas. Domestication of the red fox is also underway in Russia, and has resulted in the domesticated red fox.


The reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), also known as the caribou in North America, is a species of deer with circumpolar distribution, native to Arctic, sub-Arctic, tundra, boreal, and mountainous regions of northern Europe, Siberia, and North America. This includes both sedentary and migratory populations. Rangifer herd size varies greatly in different geographic regions. The Taimyr herd of migrating Siberian tundra reindeer (R. t. sibiricus) in Russia is the largest wild reindeer herd in the world, varying between 400,000 and 1,000,000. What was once the second largest herd is the migratory boreal woodland caribou (R. t. caribou) George River herd in Canada, with former variations between 28,000 and 385,000. As of January 2018, there are fewer than 9,000 animals estimated to be left in the George River herd, as reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The New York Times reported in April 2018 of the disappearance of the only herd of southern mountain caribou in the lower 48 states, with an expert calling it "functionally extinct" after the herd's size dwindled to a mere three animals.Rangifer varies in size and colour from the smallest, the Svalbard reindeer, to the largest, the boreal woodland caribou. The North American range of caribou extends from Alaska through Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut into the boreal forest and south through the Canadian Rockies and the Columbia and Selkirk Mountains. The Barren-ground caribou, Porcupine caribou, and Peary caribou live in the tundra, while the shy boreal woodland caribou prefer the boreal forest. The Porcupine caribou and the barren-ground caribou form large herds and undertake lengthy seasonal migrations from birthing grounds to summer and winter feeding grounds in the tundra and taiga. The migrations of Porcupine caribou herds are among the longest of any mammal. Barren-ground caribou are also found in Kitaa in Greenland, but the larger herds are in Alaska, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.Some subspecies are rare and at least one has already become extinct: the Queen Charlotte Islands caribou of Canada. Historically, the range of the sedentary boreal woodland caribou covered more than half of Canada and into the northern States in the U.S. Woodland caribou have disappeared from most of their original southern range and were designated as threatened in 2002 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Environment Canada reported in 2011 that there were approximately 34,000 boreal woodland caribou in 51 ranges remaining in Canada.(Environment Canada, 2011b). Siberian tundra reindeer herds are in decline, and Rangifer tarandus is considered to be vulnerable by the IUCN.

Arctic peoples have depended on caribou for food, clothing, and shelter, such as the Caribou Inuit, the inland-dwelling Inuit of the Kivalliq Region in northern Canada, the Caribou Clan in Yukon, the Inupiat, the Inuvialuit, the Hän, the Northern Tutchone, and the Gwich'in (who followed the Porcupine caribou for millennia). Hunting wild reindeer and herding of semi-domesticated reindeer are important to several Arctic and sub-Arctic peoples such as the Duhalar for meat, hides, antlers, milk, and transportation. The Sami people (Laplanders) have also depended on reindeer herding and fishing for centuries. In Lapland, reindeer pull pulks.Male and female reindeer can grow antlers annually, although the proportion of females that grow antlers varies greatly between population and season. Antlers are typically larger on males. In traditional festive legend, Santa Claus's reindeer pull a sleigh through the night sky to help Santa Claus deliver gifts to good children on Christmas Eve.


The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest species among the Felidae and classified in the genus Panthera. It is most recognizable for its dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with a lighter underside. It is an apex predator, primarily preying on ungulates such as deer and bovids. It is territorial and generally a solitary but social predator, requiring large contiguous areas of habitat, which support its requirements for prey and rearing of its offspring. Tiger cubs stay with their mother for about two years, before they become independent and leave their mother's home range to establish their own.

The tiger once ranged widely from Eastern Anatolia Region in the west to the Amur River basin, and in the south from the foothills of the Himalayas to Bali in the Sunda islands. Since the early 20th century, tiger populations have lost at least 93% of their historic range and have been extirpated in Western and Central Asia, from the islands of Java and Bali, and in large areas of Southeast and South Asia and China. Today's tiger range is fragmented, stretching from Siberian temperate forests to subtropical and tropical forests on the Indian subcontinent and Sumatra. The tiger is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1986. As of 2015, the global wild tiger population was estimated to number between 3,062 and 3,948 mature individuals, down from around 100,000 at the start of the 20th century, with most remaining populations occurring in small pockets isolated from each other. Major reasons for population decline include habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation and poaching. This, coupled with the fact that it lives in some of the more densely populated places on Earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans.

The tiger is among the most recognisable and popular of the world's charismatic megafauna. It featured prominently in ancient mythology and folklore and continues to be depicted in modern films and literature, appearing on many flags, coats of arms and as mascots for sporting teams. The tiger is the national animal of India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and South Korea.


In zoological nomenclature, a trinomen (plural: trinomina), trinominal name, or ternary name, refers to the name of a subspecies. For example: "Gorilla gorilla gorilla" (Savage, 1847) for the western lowland gorilla (genus Gorilla, species western gorilla). Also, "Bison bison bison" (Linnaeus, 1758) for the plains bison (genus Bison, species American bison).

A trinomen is a name with three parts: generic name, specific name and subspecific name. The first two parts alone form the binomen or species name. All three names are typeset in italics, and only the first letter of the generic name is capitalised. No indicator of rank is included: in zoology, subspecies is the only rank below that of species. For example: "Buteo jamaicensis borealis is one of the subspecies of the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)."

In a taxonomic publication, a name is incomplete without an author citation and publication details. This indicates who published the name, in what publication, and the date of the publication.

For example: "Phalacrocorax carbo novaehollandiae (Stephens, 1826)" denotes a subspecies of the great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) introduced by James Francis Stephens in 1826 under the subspecies name novaehollandiae ("of New Holland").

If the generic and specific name have already been mentioned in the same paragraph, they are often abbreviated to initial letters. For example one might write: "The great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo has a distinct subspecies in Australasia, the black shag P. c. novaehollandiae".

While binomial nomenclature came into being and immediately gained widespread acceptance in the mid-18th century, it was not until the early 20th century that the current unified standard of trinominal nomenclature was agreed upon. This became the standard mainly because of tireless promotion by Elliott Coues – even though trinomina in the modern usage were pioneered in 1828 by Carl Friedrich Bruch and around 1850 was widely used especially by Hermann Schlegel and John Cassin. As late as the 1930s, the use of trinomina was not fully established in all fields of zoology. Thus, when referring especially European works of the preceding era, the nomenclature used is usually not in accord with contemporary standards.

Variety (botany)

In botanical nomenclature, variety (abbreviated var.; in Latin: varietas) is a taxonomic rank below that of species and subspecies, but above that of form. As such, it gets a three-part infraspecific name. It is sometimes recommended that the subspecies rank should be used to recognize geographic distinctiveness, whereas the variety rank is appropriate if the taxon is seen throughout the geographic range of the species.

Wild horse

The wild horse (Equus ferus) is a species of the genus Equus, which includes as subspecies the modern domesticated horse (Equus ferus caballus) as well as the undomesticated tarpan (Equus ferus ferus, now extinct), and the endangered Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii). Przewalski's horse had reached the brink of extinction but was reintroduced successfully back into the wild. The tarpan became extinct in the 19th century, though it is a possible ancestor of the domestic horse; it roamed the steppes of Eurasia at the time of domestication. However, other subspecies of Equus ferus may have existed and could have been the stock from which domesticated horses are descended. Since the extinction of the tarpan, attempts have been made to reconstruct its phenotype, resulting in horse breeds such as the Konik and Heck horse. However, the genetic makeup and foundation bloodstock of those breeds is substantially derived from domesticated horses, so these breeds possess domesticated traits.

The term "wild horse" is also used colloquially in reference to free-roaming herds of feral horses such as the mustang in the United States, the brumby in Australia, and many others. These feral horses are untamed members of the domestic horse subspecies (Equus ferus caballus), not to be confused with the truly "wild" horse subspecies extant into modern times.

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