In biological classification, a family (Latin: familia, plural familiae) is a taxonomic rank between order, and genus. A family may be divided into one or more subfamiles, intermediate ranks above the rank of genus. In vernacular usage, a family may also be named after one of its common members, e.g. walnuts and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, commonly known as the walnut family.
What does and does not belong to each family is determined by a taxonomist — as is whether a particular family should be recognized at all. Often there is no exact agreement, with different taxonomists taking different positions. There are no hard rules that a taxonomist needs to follow in describing or recognizing a family. Some taxa are accepted almost universally, while others are recognised only rarely.
- Nomenclature 1
- History 2
- Uses 3
- See also 4
- References 5
The naming of families is codified by various international codes.
- In fungal, algal, and botanical nomenclature, the family names of plants, fungi, and algae end with the suffix "-aceae", with the exception of a small number of historic but widely used names including Compositae and Gramineae.
- In zoological nomenclature, the family names of animals end with the suffix "-idae".
The taxonomic term familia was first used by French botanist Pierre Magnol in his Prodromus historiae generalis plantarum, in quo familiae plantarum per tabulas disponuntur (1689) where he called the seventy-six groups of plants he recognised in his tables families (familiae). The concept of rank at that time was not yet settled, and in the preface to the Prodromus Magnol spoke of uniting his families into larger genera, which is far from how the term is used today.
Joseph Dalton Hooker this word ordo was used for what now is given the rank of family.
In zoology, the family as a rank intermediate between order and genus was introduced by Pierre André Latreille in his Précis des caractères génériques des insectes, disposés dans un ordre naturel (1796). He used families (some of them were not named) in some but not in all his orders of "insects" (which then included all arthropods).
Families can be used for evolutionary, palaeontological and generic studies because they are more stable than lower taxonomic levels such as genera and species.
- Systematics, the study of the diversity of life
- Cladistics, the classification of organisms by their order of branching in an evolutionary tree
- Phylogenetics, the study of evolutionary relatedness among various groups of organisms
- Virus classification
- List of Anuran families
- List of Testudines families
- List of fish families
- List of families of spiders
- 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. Article 18. International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Melbourne Code) (A.R.G. Gantner Verlag KG).
- International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (1999). "Article 29.2. Suffixes for family-group names". International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (Fourth Edition ed.). International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature, XXIX. p. 306.
- Sarda Sahney, Michael J. Benton & Paul A. Ferry (2010). "Links between global taxonomic diversity, ecological diversity and the expansion of vertebrates on land" (
- Sarda Sahney & Michael J. Benton (2008). "Recovery from the most profound mass extinction of all time" (