Systematics and taxonomy in biology

Systematics & taxonomy  in biology: The science of classification or grouping organisms based on similarities and differences is taxonomy. Systematics is a dynamic broad field of science, of which taxonomy is a part. Systematics uses characteristics and data from many disciplines and also from research papers, laboratories and fields in order to carry out its objectives of describing, naming, classifying, identifying and determining the evolutionary relationships of organisms. The data may be analysed (cladistic analysis) with the aid of computer and may be documented in the form of dried specimens in

the herbarium, as living specimens in the botanical garden, preserved specimens in the museum or as written information deposited in the library.

   Taxonomy is no longer separable from Systematics. Any study or research in any discipline in biology begins with taxonomy or Systematics. For example ecologists studying pollutant or decomposers have to identify the organism involved, the geneticist introducing new germplasm into a crop for increased production or disease resistance has to know the characteristics of the source plant; the chemist analysing plant material for life saving drugs has to know the name of the organism from which the material was procured. All these scientists will be interested in the classification of related organisms too as they would like to search for more effective agents for their work.

Importance of Taxonomy:

During the 1940s officials in Trinidad launched an intensive campaign to control malaria. They thought it was transmitted by Anopheles albimanus, a swamp-breeding mosquito. Thus money was spent on spraying and draining marshes. The campaign failed because the principal vector of malaria in Trinidad was Anopheles bellator, another species that breeds in water held within the leaves of bromeliads (ananas family) growing on branches of palm trees.      Similarly, in Europe, malaria was believed to be transmitted by a single species of Anopheles maculipennis. On the basis of chromosomal examination, it has been deduced that it is not a single species, but consists of at least 18 species. Some of them breed in fresh water, others in brackish water; some enter houses other do not. Furthermore, which mosquito species is the vector of malaria changes regionally. Control efforts are successful only when it is directed against the species that actually transmits malaria in that area. A scheme which attempts to express natural or phylogenetic (evolutionary) relationship. It also helps in the understanding of evolutionary processes. 

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