Genus - Guidelines


There are no hard and fast rules that a taxonomist has to follow in deciding what does and what does not belong in a particular genus. This does not mean that there is no common ground among taxonomists in what constitutes a "good" genus. For instance, some rules-of-thumb for delimiting a genus are outlined in Gill. According to these, a genus should fulfill three criteria to be descriptively useful:

  1. monophyly – all descendants of an ancestral taxon are grouped together;
  2. reasonable compactness – a genus should not be expanded needlessly; and
  3. distinctness – in regards of evolutionarily relevant criteria, i.e. ecology, morphology, or biogeography; note that DNA sequences are a consequence rather than a condition of diverging evolutionary lineages except in cases where they directly inhibit gene flow (e.g. postzygotic barriers).

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