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In biology, a monotypic taxon is a taxonomic group (taxon) that contains only one immediately subordinate taxon.[1]

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.[2]

In contrast an oligotypic taxon contains more than one but only a very few subordinate taxa.


Just as the term monotypic is used to describe a taxon including only one subdivision, one can also refer to the contained taxon as monotypic within the higher-level taxon, e.g. a genus monotypic within a family. Some examples of monotypic groups are:

  • In the order Amborellales, there is only one family, Amborellaceae and there is only one genus, Amborella, and in this genus there is only one species, namely Amborella trichopoda
  • The family Cephalotaceae includes only one genus, Cephalotus, and only one species, Cephalotus follicularis – the Albany pitcher plant.
  • Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus, the hyacinth macaw, is a monotypic species; no subspecies have been distinguished within the species.
  • Panurus biarmicus, the bearded reedling, has a few subspecies across its range, but belongs to the genus Panurus, which current knowledge considers monotypic (the only genus) within the family Panuridae.
  • Ozichthys albimaculosus, the cream-spotted cardinalfish, found in tropical Australia and southern New Guinea, is the type species of the monotypic genus Ozichthys.[3]
  • The flowering plant Breonadia salicina is the only species in the monotypic genus Breonadia.
  • Flowering plant Nandina domestica is the only species in the genus Nandina.
  • The madrone butterfly is the only species in the monotypic genus Eucheira. However, there are two sub-species of this butterfly, E. socialis socialis and E. socialis westwoodi.[4]

See also

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