Posts Tagged 'systematcs'

Systematics vs Taxonomy

There are a wealth of posts on their way on syatematics and especially taxonomy on the Musings (just as soon as I find the time to get them up and clear out all the backlog) and this seemed like a good opportunity to drop in a very quick post about the two and what they actually mean and relate to. It seems to me that often in the literature researchers refer to ‘systematics and taxonomy’ as almost a single entity and while they are certainly incredibly closely related, they are separate fields and I suspect the odd reader on here is not aware of the difference.

To put it as simply as possible, taxonomy is the science of naming organisms, and systematics the science of working out their relationships to each other. (And cladistics which is oft mentioned here is the method primarily used in systematics). So there you go, one half puts names on the things and makes sure they are different, the other tries to put them in order.

It should therefore be quite obvious to see how they interlink, and not surprisingly a great many researchers do both (though each side has it’s specialists). Of course a taxonomist could quite happily go though the whole of life (as in organisms, rather than that of the researcher, though I guess this is also true) and name every single species without ever actually worrying about who was related to what, but systematics would really struggle without definitions of species to tell them what they were actually working on.


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