The key difference between taxonomy and systematics is that taxonomy is the discipline of classifying organisms into taxa by arranging them in a highly ordered manner while systematics is the broad field of biology that studies the diversification of species.
Taxonomy and systematics are very closely related disciplines in biology. Yet, there are interesting differences between taxonomy and systematics. Because of the very close resemblance of these two, many of us would expect these to be with similar meanings. Therefore, it is necessary to study these two disciplines closely in order to understand the actual difference between taxonomy and systematics because many of us, including basic biologists, maybe in some confusion.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Taxonomy
3. What is Systematics
4. Similarities Between Taxonomy and Systematics
5. Side by Side Comparison – Taxonomy vs Systematics in Tabular Form
What is Taxonomy?
Taxonomy is the discipline of classifying organisms into taxa by arranging them in a highly ordered manner. Taxonomists are scientific people who work in this field. They do the naming of taxa in a hierarchical manner: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species, and other taxonomic levels. Maintenance of collections of specimens is one of several responsibilities that a taxonomist would perform. Hence, taxonomy provides identification keys for studying new specimens. Moreover, the distribution of a certain species is very important for the survival of other organisms; hence taxonomy is directly involved with studying that aspect as well. One of the well-known functions that taxonomists do is the naming of organisms according to binomial nomenclature: a generic and specific name. Sometimes, they also include sub-species names for clear identification.
Taxonomists describe organisms, both extant and extinct species scientifically. Since the environment changes every moment, the species should adapt accordingly, and this phenomenon is taking place rapidly among insects; taxonomical aspects are very important to be updated for such groups of organisms as the descriptions for a particular species have been changed in a minor interval. Accordingly, the naming would also be changed with the new description forming a new taxon. In fact, taxonomy is a fascinating field in biology with the involvement of highly enthusiastic scientists who are devoted to the discipline and usually go through many hardships in the wild.
What is Systematics?
Systematics or biological systematics is the broad field of biology that studies the diversification of species. Systematics considers both extant and extinct species and also considers the evolutionary relationships of species thoroughly. Moreover, it governs the practices of taxonomy including naming, describing, identifying, and specimen preserving of species. In addition, this discipline studies the evolutionary history and environmental adaptations of species.
The formation of evolutionary trees – phylogenetic trees or cladograms – is one of the main objectives of systematics. Prior to the formation of evolutionary trees, researchers carryout a serious investigation of the history of a particular group of species and they analyze the collected data such as anatomical and molecular characteristics and relationships with the environmental conditions, etc.
Systematics is also vital for naming prehistoric or extinct species. Hence, the main tool of a systematist is the taxonomy. One of the main applications of systematics is that it is an indication of the biodiversity of the Earth, which could be used to prepare the background in preserving endangered species.
What are the Similarities Between Taxonomy and Systematics?
- Taxonomy and systematics are two disciplines of biology.
- In both fields, both extant and extinct species are carefully studying.
- These studies are important in order to protect endangered organisms.
- Also, they are essential to identify new species and their evolutionary relationships.
What is the Difference Between Taxonomy and Systematics?
Taxonomy is important to name, describe, arrange, and identify a certain species, whereas systematics is important to provide a layout for all those taxonomic functions. So, this is the key difference between taxonomy and systematics. Also, an important difference between taxonomy and systematics is that the evolutionary history of species is studied in systematics, but not in taxonomy.
Furthermore, environmental conditions are directly related to the analysis of systematics, whereas those are indirectly related to taxonomy. Moreover, taxonomy is subjected to change with time, whereas systematics should not change if the research has been correctly done. Therefore, we can consider this too as a difference between taxonomy and systematics.
Summary – Taxonomy vs Systematic
Systematics is a larger area than taxonomy. In fact, taxonomy is a branch of systematics. Taxonomy is a field of biology that carries out classification and naming of organisms. On the other hand, systematics is a field of biology that determines the evolutionary relationships of organisms. Taxonomy is a primary tool in systematics. Most importantly, taxonomy does not deal with the evolutionary history of organisms while systematics deals with the evolutionary history of organisms. Thus, this summarizes the difference between taxonomy and systematics.
1. “Biological classification L Pengo vflip” By Peter Halasz. (User:Pengo) – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Phylogenetics” By L. Shyamal – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia