Family (biology)

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Biological classification de

The family ( Latin familia ) is a hierarchical level of biological systematics .

It stands between the main grades of order and genus . Directly above the family can as a derivative superfamily (lat. Super familia ) are among her subfamily (lat. Subfamily ). In zoology , in addition to the special family rank, there is also the family group consisting of further ranks .

In zoology, the family name always ends with -idae (for example dogs : Canidae, cats : Felidae), the superfamily name partially ends with -oidea (example dogs : Canoidea, but alternatively also Caniformia) and the subfamily name always ends with -inae (example small cats : Felinae). When referring to the members of a family, the ending -iden is often used in German (for example dogs : canids, cats : felids), for members of a subfamily the ending -inen is used (example small cats : felines).

In botany, the family name ends in principle to -aceae (eg daisy family Asteraceae, Lily Family : Liliaceae) subfamilies on -oideae (eg lilioideae always) and derives from the genus name of a specified type species such as of (B.. Aster , Lilium ). Historically, however, names according to morphological peculiarities were common in botany . Article 18.5 of the ICBN stipulates that eight such divergent family names are to be regarded as validly published, namely Palmae / Arecaceae , Gramineae / Poaceae , Cruciferae / Brassicaceae , Leguminosae / Fabaceae , Guttiferae / Clusiaceae , Umbelliferae / Apiaceae , Labiatae / Lamaceae and Compositioneae . In all other cases, only the name derived from the type and ending in -aceae is considered valid.

In virology , the family name ends in -viridae (exceptionally also -satellitidae or -viroidae ), subfamilies in -virinae (or -satellitinae ), there are currently no superfamilies as a rank (as of April 2020). One example is the Coronaviridae .

The term goes back to Pierre Magnol , who introduced it to botany in 1689. Linnaeus did not use the term yet. Michel Adanson then used it in his work Familles des Plants in 1764 and defined the first 58 plant families there. It does not appear in Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu either, where the ordines naturales ("natural orders"), which conceptually correspond to families , have a comparable rank .

It was not until the middle of the 19th century that the rank began to gain acceptance - also outside of botany.


  1. International Code of Botanical Nomenclature .
  2. International Code of Zoological Nomenclature .
  3. ^ Achim Paululat, Günter Purschke: Dictionary of Zoology: Animal Names, general biological, anatomical, physiological, ecological terms , 8th edition, Springer Verlag, 2011, ISBN 3-8274-2734-7 , p. 17.
  4. ^ Ann McNeil & RK Brummitt (2003). The usage of the alternative names of eight flowering plant families. Taxon, 52 (4): 853-856.
  5. ^ A b Judith Winston: Describing Species: Practical Taxonomic Procedure for Biologists. Columbia University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-231-06825-5 , p. 384.
  6. ^ Gerhard Wagenitz : Dictionary of Botany. Morphology, anatomy, taxonomy, evolution. 2nd, expanded edition. Nikol, Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-937872-94-0 , p. 110.