from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The classification and naming of organisms in an ordered system that is intended to indicate natural relationships, especially evolutionary relationships.
  • noun The science, laws, or principles of classification.
  • noun An ordered arrangement of groups or categories.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The laws and principles of taxology, or their application to the classifying of objects of natural history; that department of science which treats of classification; the practice of classifying according to certain principles.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun That division of the natural sciences which treats of the classification of animals and plants, primarily by consideration of their natural relationships with respect to their structure or genetic origin; the laws or principles of classification; systematics.
  • noun A systematic arrangement of objects or concepts showing the relations between them, especially one including a hierarchical arrangement of types in which categories of objects are classified as subtypes of more abstract categories, starting from one or a small number of top categories, and descending to more specific types through an arbitrary number of levels. An ontology usually contains a taxonomy as one of the important principles of organization.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable The science or the technique used to make a classification.
  • noun A classification; especially, a classification in a hierarchical system.
  • noun systematics, uncountable The science of finding, describing, classifying and naming organisms.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun (biology) study of the general principles of scientific classification
  • noun practice of classifying plants and animals according to their presumed natural relationships
  • noun a classification of organisms into groups based on similarities of structure or origin etc


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French taxonomie : Greek taxis, arrangement; see taxis + -nomie, method (from Greek -nomiā; see –nomy).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French taxonomie.


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  • A biological taxonomy is a classification scheme based on character traits.

    A Disclaimer for Behe? 2009

  • However Linnean taxonomy is a nested hierarchy through-n-through.

    About 'What Darwin Got Wrong' 2010

  • ID guy: Except that taxonomy is based on CHARACTERISTICS.

    A Disclaimer for Behe? 2009

  • A taxonomy is a type of nested hierarchy based on a classification scheme, such as a biological classification.

    A Disclaimer for Behe? 2009

  • Linnaean taxonomy is also a nested hierarchy, but he had very limited knowledge of Reptiles and he set Reptiles as a separate class of Animals; therefore the class is not monophyletic.

    A Disclaimer for Behe? 2009

  • In other words, the nested hierarchy of the observed Linnaean taxonomy is explained as due to the nested hierarchy of the posited descent from common ancestors.

    A Disclaimer for Behe? 2009

  • Darwin proposes that the nested hierarchy of Linnaean taxonomy is due to the nested hierarchy of descent.

    A Disclaimer for Behe? 2009

  • A taxonomy is a nested hierarchy based on shared characterists.

    A New Book 2010

  • A taxonomy is a type of nested hierarchy classification based on character traits.

    A Disclaimer for Behe? 2009

  • BTW I said "clade" instead of "phylum" because the problem I see with Linnaean taxonomy is that it organizes the taxa on the basis of morphology BUT MAKES NO PREDICTIONS.

    A Disclaimer for Behe? 2009


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  • "One of the challenges for taxonomy is that it is often seen as an old and intellectually unchallenging, conveyor- belt science, that simply involves describing new species. Worse still, it's been suggested that the analysis could be done just as well by comparing the DNA of each species – a kind of barcode taxonomy. Not so, say taxonomists, there is much more to their science than just comparing DNA. They are the curators of knowledge about species – their identity, how they live, and how they interact with others and the environment. They enable us to understand the functional role of biodiversity and help with the diagnosis of exotic pests and disease organisms. Measuring the impact of climate change on biodiversity is another key and burgeoning area requiring their skills."

    --Taxonomy: The naming crisis, from The Independent

    March 14, 2011

  • Also, DNA barcoding is based on a single locus, which means you would be looking at a gene tree and not a species tree.

    And even if you actually analyze multiple loci, and identify clusters, it is not trivial to decide what the rank of that cluster is - a species? a subspecies? something else?

    March 14, 2011

  • (Sorry, ruzuzu, your link came right before my Monday phylogeography seminar.)

    March 14, 2011

  • No need for apologies--it makes me happy that I found something of interest!

    March 15, 2011