Difference Between Taxonomy and Systematics

Main Difference – Taxonomy vs Systematics

Taxonomy and systematics are two concepts related to the study of diversification of living forms and the relationships of living things through time. The main difference between taxonomy and systematics is that taxonomy is involved in the classification and naming of organisms whereas systematics is involved in the determination of evolutionary relationships of organisms. This means systematics ascertain the sharing of the common ancestry by different organisms. In taxonomy, different organisms are scientifically named and grouped in different taxonomic levels. Organisms are grouped based on their evolutionary relationships. Taxonomy can be considered as a branch of systematics. Both taxonomy and systematics use morphological, behavioral, genetics, and the biochemical observations.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Taxonomy
      – Definition, Components, Role
2. What is Systematics
      – Definition, Components, Role
3. What are the Similarities Between Taxonomy and Systematics
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Taxonomy and Systematics
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Cladistics, Classification, Naming, Phylogenetics, Species, Systematics, Taxonomy, Taxonomic Levels

Difference Between Taxonomy and Systematics - Comparison Summary

What is Taxonomy

Taxonomy is the describing, naming, and classifying of organisms in biology. It uses morphological, behavioral, genetic, as well as biochemical observations to identify organisms. Around 1.78 million species of plants, animals, and microorganisms have been named by the taxonomists over the past 250 years. However, 5 to 30 million of species have not yet been identified. Different plants, animals, and microorganisms are grouped into different species. A species is a potentially interbreeding group of organisms, which produces a fertile offspring. It is considered as the fundamental level of the biological classification of organisms. Starting from the species, organisms are classified into large groups of organism, which are called the taxonomic levels. Species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom, and domain are the ascending order of the taxonomic levels. Different taxonomic levels of the red fox are shown in figure 1.

Main Difference -Taxonomy vs Systematics

Figure 1: Taxonomic Levels of the Red Fox

Taxonomists assign unique names for each for each type of species. The naming of the species is based on the binomial nomenclature where the first part of the name consists of the name of the genus and the second part of the name consists of the name of the species.    

What is Systematics

Systematics refers to the study and classification of organisms for the determination of the evolutionary relationship of organisms. Therefore, the systematics consists of both taxonomy and evolution. Systematics uses morphological, behavioral, genetics, and evolutionary relationships between organisms. By using these characteristic features, systematics describes an organism by means of classification, name, cladistics, and phylogenetics. Cladistics refers to the classification of organisms based on the branching of different lineages from a common ancestor. Phylogenetics refers to the study of the history of evolution and the relationship among groups of organisms. Phenetics refers to the characteristics of organisms excluding the phylogenetics. The relationships of the organisms are presented by phylogenetic trees. Both phylogenetics and phenetics are described in figure 2.

Difference Between Taxonomy and Systematics

Figure 2: Phylogenetics and Phonetics

Taxonomy is one of the components of systematics. Therefore, during the description of organisms by systematics, the binomial nomenclature is also used. Furthermore, systematics identifies biological enemies of organisms that act as a biological control.

Similarities Between Taxonomy and Systematics

  • Both taxonomy and systematics study the diversification and relationships of living organisms.
  • Both taxonomy and systematics are involved in characterizing organisms.
  • Both taxonomy and systematics use morphological, behavioral, genetics, and the biochemical observations.

Difference Between Taxonomy and Systematics

Definition

Taxonomy: Taxonomy refers to the classification of organisms in biology.

Systematics: Systematics refers to the study and classification of organisms for the determination of the evolutionary relationship of organisms.

Correlation

Taxonomy: Taxonomy is a branch of systematics.

Systematics: Systematics studies the relationship of organisms.

Components

Taxonomy: Taxonomy is involved in the classification and naming of organisms.

Systematics: Systematics is involved in the classification, naming, cladistics, and phylogenetics.

Evolutionary History

Taxonomy: Taxonomy does not deal with the evolutionary history of organisms.

Systematics: Systematics deals with the evolutionary history of organisms.

Changing

Taxonomy: Taxonomy can change with further studies.

Systematics: Systematics does not change with further studies.

Conclusion

Taxonomy and systematics are two concepts that are used to identify and describe organisms. Taxonomy is a component of systematics. In taxonomy, the organisms are biologically classified and named. In systematics, cladistic and phylogenetic relationships of organisms are evaluated in addition to taxonomy. The main difference between taxonomy and systematics is the components that are used by them.

Reference:
  1. “Taxonomy.” Basic Biology, 27 May 2016, Available here.
  2. “Systematics: Meaning, Branches and Its Application.” Biology Discussion, 27 May 2016, Available here.
Image Courtesy:
  1. “Taxonomic Rank Graph” By Annina Breen – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
  2. “Phylogenetics” By L. Shyamal – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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