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Taxonomy and Systematics | Definition, Nomenclature, Uses

This blog gives you complete information about taxonomy and systematics in very easy language. Read it till end and do not forget to test your knowledge.

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Posted by Mahak Jain, 27/11/2020
Taxonomy and Systematics | Definition, Nomenclature, Uses

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Contents of Taxonomy and Systematics:

  • Introduction
  • What is taxonomy?
  • What is systematics?
  • Tasks that can be achieved by taxonomy and systematics.
  • Nomenclature
  • Binomial nomenclature
  • Rules of Binomial nomenclature
  • Advantages of scientific nomenclature
  • Test yourself


Systematics may be defined as the study of the kinds and diversity of organisms and the relationships among them. Taxonomy, on the other hand, is the theory and practice of identifying, describing, naming, and classifying organisms. Classification is the arrangement of organisms into groups (taxa, singular taxon) on the basis of their relationships. It follows that identification can take place only after a classification has been established. Taxonomy and systematics are often used as a synonyms of each other.

What is Taxonomy?

Taxonomy is a branch of science which deals with principles and procedures of identification, nomenclature and classification of organisms. The word taxonomy is given by Candolle. 

What is Systematics?

Systematics is the branch that deals with the diversity of organisms and their evolutionary relationships. This is based on the comparative anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. Often, systematics is used interchangeably with taxonomy. 

Taxonomy and systematics are used to achieve the following:

  1. Identification: Based on the studied parameters, we try to identify an organism to be similar to any other organisms. By identification, we try to fit the organism into the set of organisms. 
  2. Characterization: This is the description of all the observable characters of an organism. 
  1. Classification: It is grouping an organism into convenient categories based on some easily observable characters. Based on these characters, the organism is now classified under a given category if it shares any resemblance. If it is not similar to any other organisms, we create a new group. 
  2. Nomenclature: After placing the organism into a given group, the organism can be named based on certain rules. 

Suppose we have 3 sets of animals categorized into 3 species, say A, B, C and we identify a new organism, K. Then, based on the identification, characterization, classification of the organism, if we find that this has more resemblance to the species belonging to ‘C’, then we place the new organism into that category. Later we name the organism according to the rules of nomenclature. 

Nomenclature Taxonomy and Systematics

Nomenclature : Taxonomy and Systematics

Nomenclature is the branch of science that deals with providing distinct and proper names to the organisms. This is done in order to easily differentiate organisms. Generally, we give two types of names to organisms- common and scientific. Here we mostly follow the scientific names rather than the common or vernacular names. 

Binomial Nomenclature

This system of nomenclature is given by Carolus Linnaeus. According to Binomial Nomenclature, every organism gets a distinct name and each name has two words. The first word – Generic name, corresponds to the taxonomic category of genus. The second word – Specific epithet, corresponds to the taxonomic category of species. 

The principles for this naming system are different for plants and animals. For plants, “International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN)” specify some rules. For animals, “International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) ” do the same.

Rules of Binomial Nomenclature:

  1. Names are given in Latin or derived from Latin irrespective of their origin and written in italics.
  2. The first word represents the genus while the second word represents the species.
  3. When handwritten, underline both the names are separately or print in italics to represent their latin origin.
  4. The first word, Genus, starts with a capital letter, while the second word, species, starts with a small letter. 

Example : Magnifera indica

Here, Genus name: Magnifera

          Species name: indica

Advantages of Scientific Nomenclature:

  1. Prevents redundancy in naming an organism
  2. These names are universally followed and hence it is easy to communicate them in the scientific world.
  3. They are comprehensive and easy to recollect.
  4. The names also indicates the relationship of a species with other species of a given genus

E.g., Panthera leo – Lion

        Panthera tigris – Tiger

Panthera pardus – Leopard

5. We name a newly discovered species easily based on its taxonomic category.

Questions on Taxonomy and Systematics

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