Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What is Taxonomy?

Taxonomy is the science of classification of living things. It uses hierarchy of progressively smaller groups, from kingdom to species, and organizes living things in a way that reflects their evolutionary links. Given below are the principal groups used in classification. In addition to these, taxonomists use a number of intermediate groups, such as suborders or superfamilies.

One of the overall categories of life, containing organisms that share fundamental features.

A major grouping within a kingdom; knows as a ‘division’ in the classification of plants and fungi.

A major part of a phylum.

A part of a class, consisting of one or more families.

A large collection of species that share a number of important physical features.

A narrower group containing a small number of species that share many features.

A collection of living things that interbreed in the wild, producing similar offspring.

Source: DK Illustrated Oxford Dictionary

  • In the system of classification used by most modern biologists, living things are organized into five kingdoms.
  • The smallest kingdom, in terms of species so far indentified, is the Kingdom Monera, which contains bacteria – single-celled organisms that are the simplest forms of life.
  • The Kingdom Protista also contains single-celled organisms, together with some multicellular algae, but their ells are larger and more complex than those of monerans.
  • Most members of the Kingdom Fungi are multicellular, and live by absorbing organic matter from their surroundings.
  • All plants, Kingdom Plantae, are multicellular, and live by photosynthesis. This large kingdom contains some 400,000 known species.
  • All insects fall under Phylum Arthropoda of the Kingdom Animalia.

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