Every student of biology comes across taxonomy during his course of study as one of the important topics.
The earth’s biodiversity is huge, there are hundreds of types of animals and plants. So it is difficult to study them all in a simple manner. So taxonomy was made to group animals and plants based on a set of characters.
Most of the students dislike taxonomy and feel bored not knowing why they have to study. The terms are difficult and hence have mug up to pass their exams.
But yet taxonomy is mentioned in almost every chapter during the classification of any plant or animal.
Taxonomy definition: “Taxonomy is a branch of science which tries to scientifically classify all the existing living organisms based on a certain set of characters for ease of identification and study.“
Taxonomy was described by Linnaeus and hence he is called Father of taxonomy. You notice many plant specie’ s scientific names ending with Linn. Taxonomy is the scientific way of classification of all the living creatures on the earth. Even human is called as Homosapien as per taxonomy.
Establishing taxonomy for the entire biological species is a very task but these scientists completed it very successfully during their time. Any new plants or animals discovered latter were given name as per the rules of taxonomy established by Linnaeus.
This taxonomy is divided into plant taxonomy, animal or zoological taxonomy, microbial taxonomy, etc.
What is the importance of taxonomy in Biology:
1. Taxonomy aims to classify living creatures: There are millions of organisms on the Earth of different physical, physiological, regional differences. Taxonomy helps to classify these millions of organisms scientifically into some categories like family, genus, species, etc. for ease of study and understanding.
2. Taxonomy helps to ascertain the number of living species on the earth. We have discovered till now some thousands of plants and animal species and are recorded as per taxonomy.
3. Taxonomy helps in getting an idea of what type of characters are present in the plant or animal possess even before seeing or studying them in detail.
Ex: a) In plants: When one hears a plant to be of leguminous family, the characters we can ascertain are that they have nitrogen synthesizing bacteria in their root nodules. They have a seed which can be broken into an exact two half etc..
b) In animals: If a living creature is mentioned under mollusk’s, it means the animals have some sort of hard shell as a protective factor (like a snail). If an animal is called a mammal, it means the creature gives birth to well-formed babies and also rears them with milk during growth.
4. Taxonomy gives an ideas level of physical development: Taxonomy gives an idea of how far an animal has physical and mental development and its position in the evolution tree of organisms.
Ex: When you hear the word bacteria, you get an idea of single-celled organisms and fungi as a multi-celled organism yet both or microbes. Physically & evolutionary wise, fungi are advanced than bacteria.
5. Gives an idea of local fauna: Not all plants and animal species are found in all regions of the earth. Example kangaroo is limited to Australia likewise kiwi to New-Zealand etc. Even plants like Campanula Americana (Americana= America) are found in North America while the neem plant as Azadirachta Indica (Indica= India) due to its prominent presence there. Hence taxonomy helps to identify or ascertain the types of plants and animals that can be found in a particular region. This helps new scientists to go to the place of existence of the species to collect them in case they need to experiment on them.
How is taxonomy done: Taxonomy is done based on a large view to a smaller view like
1. Area (no nucleus, no organelles in the cell),
2. Bacteria have no well-formed nucleus but have organelles
3. Eukarya: which means well-formed nucleus and cell organelles.
b. Kingdom gives ideas as 1. Animal 2. plant. 3. Fungi 4. Protista.
c. Phylum: For zoology, it gives an idea if it is an insect type or worm type, etc.
e. Order: If you consider mammal it say whether it is a herbivore or carnivore etc.
f. Family: In botany plants are categorized or leguminous, Solanaceae, Euphorbiaceae, etc. families wherein the plants in one family have few sets of common physical characters.
g. Genus: This keeps the animals more specific ex: Frog as “Rana”
h. Species: This gives even specificity and in the above example of frog it says the place of existence or physical character like
Rana Italica, Italian frog, Rana japonica-Japanese frog.
See for more Rana genus.
So taxonomy for Frog is as
Kingdom: Animalia- This means it is “animal type” and not a plant.
Phylum: Chordata- Means has “Spinal cord
Subphylum: Vertebrata- Has vertebral column dorsally.
Class: Amphibia- Can live both in water and on land (Amphi- two; Bia- living)
Order: Anura – No tail (An= No; Ura = Tail)
Suborder: Neobatrachia- New type of frogs (Neo= new)
Species: Tigrina (etc. based on the region where the frog is found)
In Biology importance of Taxonomy is immense for study, research and also seems to be quite interesting.
But there are many changes, deviations, and modifications of the taxonomy over time due to variations among living organisms. So you find not all animals can have all the sets of taxonomy and some can have extra sets like suborder, subgenera, subspecies, etc.