What is the difference between breed, variant, sub-species and species? Are there any similarities between sub-species and sub-population of a region?

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    $\begingroup$ what do you mean by "Are there any similarities between sub-species and sub-population of a region?"? $\endgroup$
    Dec 22, 2014 at 11:04
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    $\begingroup$ You may want to add the term strain in you list. @WYSIWYG I would guess that the OP asked between sub-species and sub-population of a region because (s)he has some understanding that species is a term that applies to taxonomy while population is a concept that is used to define a collection of individuals that reproduce and live over a geographical region. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Dec 22, 2014 at 11:17

1 Answer 1


A species is commonly defined as the largest group within which interbreeding produces viable offspring.

A sub-species is a subgroup below the level of a species. One definition is a group which can interbreed successfully with other subspecies, but does not do so in practice (e.g. due to geographical isolation). Other terms like variety, form, etc., may be used in some domains to indicate various groupings below the species level.

A breed usually refers to a population of a domestic animal that has been selectively bred for specific characteristics.

A population is a set of individuals within a species that live in the same geographical region. Depending on rates of gene flow, different populations within a species may eventually differentiate into subspecies or distinct species — this is known as allopatric speciation.

  • $\begingroup$ So is there any difference in meaning between population and subspecies? Note that while you are giving the most commonly used definition of species, those definition only apply to lineages that reproduce sexually. I would love to have the definition of the word strain as well in this list. I would tend to think that many of these concepts are poorly defined and are used with different definitions in different field of biology. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Dec 29, 2014 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Remi.b These concepts are indeed loosely defined and the accepted definitions vary across different subdomains (e.g. microbiology vs botany vs zoology); this is just an overview. As for population versus subspecies, population just refers to the members of a taxon in a given region, with no implication of a distinct genetic lineage. $\endgroup$
    – augurar
    Dec 29, 2014 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ As Remi said, what is strain actually? $\endgroup$
    – Tyto alba
    Dec 13, 2016 at 17:44

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