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Abstract— The goal of a phylogenetic species concept is to reveal the smallest units that are analysable by cladistic methods and interpretable as the result of phylogenctic history. We define species as the smallest aggregation of populations (sexual) or lineagcs (asexual) diagnosable by a unique combination of character states in comparable individuals (semaphoronts). A character state is an inherited attribute distributed among all comparable individuals (semaphoronts) of the same historical population, clade, or terminal lineage. This definition of species is character-based and pattern oriented. Evolutionary explanations of phylogenetic species are consistent with contemporary explanations of processes of speciation, but require only the assumption of nested hierarchical pattern. We discuss the compatibility of the phylogenetic species concept with various biological needs for species and justify its use at the exclusion of alternative species concepts.