Mar4_BiologicalSystematics - Biological Systematics David...

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Biological Systematics David R. Lindberg UC Berkeley IB 200A Spr 08 Biological systematics encompasses three distinct activities: taxonomy, classification (which may or may not be a reasonable reflection of phylogeny) and nomenclature (Fig. 1). Although systematists rigorously and distinctly practice these three components, they are often amalgamated under the term “taxonomy.” While the breadth of “taxonomy” is clearly understood among most practitioners, it can obscure the methodology and practices of modern systematics to others. On the other hand, not all systematists work across the full breadth of systematics. For example, they can be engaged in the study of molecular phylogenies without applying the results of their studies to the nomenclature of the group. Similarly, the resolution of nomenclatural issues can be carried out without a phylogenetic study of the species or the generation of a new classification, but usually not without extensive library resources. Figure 1. Biological Systematics - a summary showing the relationship between taxonomy, classification, and nomenclature.
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The three components of systematics can be described as follows: Taxonomy Taxonomy is a process. In this process, a classification (see below) can be referred to but its focus is on the study and description of the objects being classified. It includes the examination of individual organisms and the description, analysis and quantification of taxa by way of the characters they possess. Characters can be taken from morphology (gross morphology to cellular ultrastructure) and at different life history stages (cell division cycles to adults with indeterminate growth). Molecular characters underlie this morphology and scale from base pair to genome. Because of this complexity, character analysis of semaphoronts is critical for the accurate scoring of character states whether it is the homology of morphological structures or the alignment of gene fragments. The practice of taxonomy requires an extraordinary understanding of a taxon and the ability to rigorously extract and evaluate the necessary character information. To do this systematists may require access to microscopy, imaging, histological and molecular facilities, or some subset of them. For extinct taxa, access to isotopic, thin-section and 3D reconstruction technologies may also be necessary. Unfortunately, and often not from necessity, the taxonomy of many groups is based on little more than a handful of traditional characters. Taxonomy interacts with both nomenclature and classification (Fig. 1). The taxonomic study
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This note was uploaded on 08/01/2008 for the course IB 200 taught by Professor Lindberg,mishler,will during the Spring '08 term at Berkeley.

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Mar4_BiologicalSystematics - Biological Systematics David...

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