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Taxonomic Categories & Tools of Taxonomy

Taxonomic categories and tools for study of taxonomy is a very important topic from examination point of view. For this, you landed on right page. Study below carefully and do not forget to test yourself.

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Posted by Mahak Jain, 12/12/2020
Taxonomic Categories & Tools of Taxonomy

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  • Introduction to Taxonomic Categories
  • Sequence of Taxonomic Categories
    • Species
    • Genus
    • Family
    • Order
    • Class
    • Phylum
    • Kingdom
  • Example of above taxonomic categories
  • Tools for study of taxonomy
    • Herbarium
    • Botanical Gardens
    • Museum
    • Zoological Parks
    • Key
  • Test yourself

Introduction to Taxonomic Categories

Taxonomic categories, also referred to as taxonomic ranks, are the level in which we place an organism in a taxonomic hierarchy. Taxonomic hierarchy is simply the arrangement of various organisms into successive levels depending upon their classification either in decreasing or increasing order.

The classification is based on the shared similarities among the organisms. This means that organisms with more similarities group under a category or rank. And we classify more and more organisms, they group in their hierarchical levels. 

Sequence of Taxonomic Categories:

Kingdom — Phylum — Class — Order — Family — Genus — Species

Highest category(rank) : Kingdom

Lowest category(rank)  : Species

Species :

Organisms with very close and fundamental similarities are considered to belong to the same species. These are mostly morphological similarities and one should be able to distinguish one species from other closely related species. Species is the basic unit of classification.


Genus is the group of closely related species which has common characters compared to species of other genera (plural form of genus).

If yes then identify the genus and species of Magnifera indica 


This is the next rank in the hierarchy which comprises groups of related genera. 


Order has the closely related families grouped together which share a few similarities. 


This category includes closely related orders. 


Phylum is of higher category to class where organisms are classified broadly based on a few important similarities. 

In case of plants, classes with some similar characters are placed under a category named Division.

Kingdom :

Kingdom is the highest level of taxonomic category. All animals belong to the kingdom Animalia whereas all plants belong to the kingdom Plantae. 

Let’s try to understand the above taxonomic categories in detail by considering an example. 

Let’s take the animal “Tiger”. Now as we know, the scientific name of tiger is Panthera tigris. Here, 

Species : Tigris

Genus: Panthera

As we know, genus is a group of species, the other species which belong to this genus are Panthera leo (Lion) , Panthera pardus (leopard) and more. 

Now all of these organisms belong to a family named “Felidae”. Apart from these organisms, the felidae family also comprises of Felis catus (domestic cat) ,  Acinonyx jubatus (Cheetah) and many more. 

Now the family of “Felidae”, is put in the category of “Carnivora” which is the order. This “Carnivora” order also includes other families like Canidae (to which dog belongs to), Hyaenidae (to which hyna belongs to), etc., 

Next, all the organisms of the “Carnivora” order are put into the category of “Mammalia” which is the class to which all the mammals belong. All the mammals along with fishes, amphibians , aves (birds) , reptiles belong to the higher category of Phylum Chordata. The phylum chordata along with other phyla like Annelida, Arthropoda, Mollusca, Porifera etc., group together in the Kingdom Animalia. 

Apart from these main taxonomic categories, there are also sub-categories in each of the categories like sub-family, super-class etc.. 

Tools for study of taxonomy

The techniques and procedures used to preserve and study the taxonomic categories are together considered as tools of taxonomy or taxonomical aids. 

They help in:

  1. Understanding the diversity of organisms around us
  2. Helps us in knowing our bio-resources
  3. Also useful in agriculture, forestry and industry. 

It requires correct identification and classification of organisms which might involve

  • Extensive field and laboratory studies
  • Collection of actual specimens of plants and animals
  • Storage of the specimens as well as the information gathered. 

Some of the important taxonomical aids include:


A store house of dried and pressed plant specimens, preserved on sheets along with their descriptions. These sheets are arranged according to the system of classification. 

Botanical Gardens:

These are special gardens with collections of living plants for reference. Each plant is labelled with its scientific name and its family. 


A biological Museum has collections of preserved plant and animal species in the containers or jars in preservative solutions or as dry specimens. 

Zoological Parks:

Places where we place wild animals under a protected environment with human care. Also, conditions are set to their natural habitats. 


A taxonomical aid used to identify the organisms based on their similarities and differences. A key is an analytical device with a list of statements that can identify organisms. Each statement is called a lead. We chose the lead present in an organism whereas reject the other. 

Questions on Taxonomic Categories and Taxonomical Aids

[WATU 4]

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