AskDefine | Define taxonomist

Dictionary Definition

taxonomist n : a biologist who specializes in the classification of organisms into groups on the basis of their structure and origin and behavior [syn: taxonomer, systematist]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Someone whose profession is taxonomy, or who performs taxonomy at a professional level.

Extensive Definition

Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification. The word comes from the Greek , taxis, 'order' + , nomos, 'law' or 'science'. Taxonomies, or taxonomic schemes, are composed of taxonomic units known as taxa (singular taxon), or kinds of things that are arranged frequently in a hierarchical structure, typically related by subtype-supertype relationships, also called parent-child relationships. In such a subtype-supertype relationship the subtype kind of thing has by definition the same constraints as the supertype kind of thing plus one or more additional constraints. For example, car is a subtype of vehicle. So any car is also a vehicle, but not every vehicle is a car. Therefore, a thing needs to satisfy more constraints to be a car than to be a vehicle.


Originally the term taxonomy referred to the classifying of living organisms like cats (now known as alpha taxonomy); however, the term is now applied in a wider, more general sense and now may refer to a classification of things, as well as to the principles underlying such a classification.
Almost anything — animate objects, inanimate objects, places, concepts, events, properties, and relationships — may be classified according to some taxonomic scheme.
The term taxonomy may also apply to relationship schemes other than parent-child hierarchies, such as network structures with other types of relationships. Taxonomies may include single children with multi-parents, for example, "Car" might appear with both parents "Vehicle" and "Steel Mechanisms"; to some however, this merely means that 'car' is a part of several different taxonomies.
A taxonomy might also be a simple organization of kinds of things into groups, or even an alphabetical list. However, the term vocabulary is more appropriate for such a list. In current usage within "Knowledge Management", taxonomies are seen as less broad than ontologies as ontologies apply a larger variety of relation types.
Mathematically, a hierarchical taxonomy is a tree structure of classifications for a given set of objects. It is also named Containment hierarchy. At the top of this structure is a single classification, the root node, that applies to all objects. Nodes below this root are more specific classifications that apply to subsets of the total set of classified objects. So for instance, in common schemes of scientific classification of organisms, the root is called "Organism" followed by nodes for the taxonomic ranks: Domain, kingdom, phylum, class, etc.

Taxonomy and mental classification

Some have argued that the human mind naturally organizes its knowledge of the world into such systems. This view is often based on the epistemology of Immanuel Kant. Anthropologists have observed that taxonomies are generally embedded in local cultural and social systems, and serve various social functions. Perhaps the most well-known and influential study of folk taxonomies is Émile Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of Religious Life.

Various taxonomies

In phylogenetic taxonomy (or cladistic taxonomy), organisms are classified into clades, which are discovered by grouping taxa using derived traits. By using clades as the criteria for separation, cladistic taxonomy, using cladograms, can categorize taxa into unranked groups.
In numerical taxonomy or taximetrics, the field of solving or best-fitting of numerical equations that characterize all measurable quantities of a set of objects is called cluster analysis.

Non-scientific taxonomy

Other taxonomies, such as those analyzed by Durkheim and Lévi-Strauss, are sometimes called folk taxonomies to distinguish them from scientific taxonomies that claim to be disembedded from social relations and thus objective and universal.
The neologism folksonomy should not be confused with "folk taxonomy" (though it is obviously a contraction of the two words). Those who support scientific taxonomies have recently criticized folksonomies by dubbing them "fauxonomies" (French word "faux" means "false").
The phrase "enterprise taxonomy" is used in business to describe a very limited form of taxonomy used only within one organization. An example would be a certain method of classifying trees as "Type A", "Type B" and "Type C" used only by a certain lumber company for categorising log shipments.

See also

taxonomist in Arabic: علم التصنيف
taxonomist in Bosnian: Taksonomija
taxonomist in Breton: Taksinomiezh
taxonomist in Bulgarian: Таксономия
taxonomist in Catalan: Taxonomia
taxonomist in Czech: Taxonomie
taxonomist in Danish: Taksonomi
taxonomist in German: Taxonomie
taxonomist in Estonian: Taksonoomia
taxonomist in Modern Greek (1453-): Συστηματική ταξινόμηση
taxonomist in Spanish: Taxonomía
taxonomist in Esperanto: Taksonomio
taxonomist in French: Taxinomie
taxonomist in Western Frisian: Taksonomy
taxonomist in Galician: Taxonomía
taxonomist in Korean: 분류학
taxonomist in Croatian: Taksonomija
taxonomist in Indonesian: Taksonomi
taxonomist in Italian: Tassonomia
taxonomist in Hebrew: טקסונומיה
taxonomist in Latin: Taxinomia
taxonomist in Lithuanian: Taksonomija
taxonomist in Ligurian: Taxonomïa
taxonomist in Limburgan: Taxonomie
taxonomist in Hungarian: Rendszertan
taxonomist in Malay (macrolanguage): Taksonomi
taxonomist in Dutch: Taxonomie
taxonomist in Japanese: 分類学
taxonomist in Norwegian: Taksonomi
taxonomist in Occitan (post 1500): Taxinomia
taxonomist in Polish: Taksonomia
taxonomist in Portuguese: Taxonomia
taxonomist in Romanian: Taxonomie
taxonomist in Russian: Таксономия
taxonomist in Sicilian: Tassinumìa
taxonomist in Simple English: Taxonomy
taxonomist in Slovak: Taxonómia (biológia)
taxonomist in Slovenian: Taksonomija
taxonomist in Serbian: Таксономија
taxonomist in Serbo-Croatian: Taksonomija
taxonomist in Finnish: Taksonomia
taxonomist in Swedish: Taxonomi
taxonomist in Thai: อนุกรมวิธาน
taxonomist in Vietnamese: Phân loại học
taxonomist in Turkish: Taksonomi
taxonomist in Ukrainian: Таксономія
taxonomist in Yiddish: טאקסאנאמיע
taxonomist in Chinese: 分类学
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