taxonomic rank subordinate to species.Subspecies differentiate closely related organisms within a single species
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Subspecies is a classification (taxonomy) in biology. It is directly below species. When looking at the Latin name, subspecies are indicated by the third name. Subspecies can mix with each other; animals or plants from different subspecies can have offspring together (This is usually not the case with animals from different species).

Two subspecies of crow. The left one is Corvus corone cornix; the picture was taken in Helsinki. The right one is Corvus corone corone; picture taken in Brussels.

When looking at subspecies, they can also be told apart sufficiently by looking at the appearance or DNA of an animal or plant.

Very often, there are populations that are between two subspecies; this is because evolution is a continuous process. Subspecies can often be recognised by subsp or ssp (before the third part of the name) especially in botany.

Examples of subspecies are:

  • The dog (Canis lupus familiaris) and the dingo (Canis lupus dingo) are both subspecies of the wolf (Canis lupus)
  • The domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) is a subspecies of the wildcat (Felis silvestris)

Nominate subspecies


In zoology, when a species is split into subspecies, the first described population is known as the "nominate subspecies", and it repeats the same name as the species. For example, the "Daboia russelii russelii" (known as the Indian Russell's Viper) is a nominate subspecies of the species "Daboia russelii" (known as the Russell's Viper).