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Zoological Nomenclature

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.[1] As points of reference, recent definitions of taxonomy are presented below:

  1. Theory and practice of grouping individuals into species, arranging species into larger groups, and giving those groups names, thus producing a classification.[2]
  2. A field of science (and major component of systematics) that encompasses description, identification, nomenclature, and classification[3]
  3. The science of classification, in biology the arrangement of organisms into a classification[4]
  4. “The science of classification as applied to living organisms, including study of means of formation of species, etc.”[5]
  5. “The analysis of an organism’s characteristics for the purpose of classification”[6]
  6. Systematics studies phylogeny to provide a pattern that can be translated into the classification and names of the more inclusive field of taxonomy” (listed as a desirable but unusual definition)[7]

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.[8] For example, definition 6 is paired with the following definition of systematics that places nomenclature outside taxonomy:[6]

  • 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”.

A whole set of terms including taxonomy, systematic biology, systematics, biosystematics, scientific classification, biological classification, and phylogenetics have at times had overlapping meanings – sometimes the same, sometimes slightly different, but always related and intersecting.[1][9] The broadest meaning of “taxonomy” is used here. The term itself was introduced in 1813 by de Candolle, in his Théorie élémentaire de la botanique.[10]

Monograph and taxonomic revision