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Summary

The ‘-deme’ terminology was coined by Gilmour and associates to bring order to the confusion of terms used for classifying plants at or below the species level.

During the past decade details of key-words in titles and abstracts of scientific papers have been stored in computer data banks. Using an on-line system in a search of five data bases, an estimate of the use of the ‘-deme’ and other technical terms has been made. We have discovered, in a search of nearly 8 million papers, that the ‘-deme’ terminology has rarely been used by biologists (only 115 uses). Moreover in 74% of cases the terminology has not been employed in accordance with the intentions of its authors, the term ‘-deme’ being incorrectly used to denote ‘a local interbreeding population’. The use of various terms in describing variation, at and below the species level, is discussed.