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Taxonomy (biology)


Taxonomy (from Ancient Greek: taxis, "arrangement", and , "method") is the science of defining groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics and giving names to those groups. Organisms are grouped together into taxa (singular: taxon) and these groups are given a taxonomic rank; groups of a given rank can be aggregated to form a super group of lower rank, thus creating a taxonomic hierarchy. The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus is regarded as the father of taxonomy, as he developed a system known as Linnaean classification for categorization of organisms and binomial nomenclature for naming organisms.

With the advent of such fields of study as phylogenetics, cladistics, and systematics, the Linnaean system has progressed to a system of modern biological classification based on the evolutionary relationships between organisms, both living and extinct.

The exact definition of taxonomy varies from source to source, but the core of the discipline remains: the conception, naming, and classification of groups of organisms. Two other terms are related to taxonomy, namely "systematics" and "classification"; their exact relationship to taxonomy also varies from source to source because the usage of the three terms in biology originated independently. As points of reference, recent definitions of taxonomy are presented below:

The varied definitions either place taxonomy as a sub-area of systematics (definition 2), invert that relationship (definition 6), or appear to consider the two terms synonymous. There is some disagreement as to whether biological nomenclature is considered a part of taxonomy (definitions 1 and 2), or a part of systematics outside taxonomy. For example, definition 6 is paired with the following definition of systematics that places nomenclature outside taxonomy:



  • Systematics: "The study of the identification, taxonomy and nomenclature of organisms, including the classification of living things with regard to their natural relationships and the study of variation and the evolution of taxa".
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Wikipedia

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