Taxonomy: is the practice and science of classification. Organisms are classified in an ordered system based on degrees of natural relatedness.
There are 8 general taxonomic groupings, starting with the most general and ending at the most specific. The groupings are: Domain, Kingdom, Phylum (or Division for plants), Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. (http://marinebio.org/Oceans/marine-taxonomy.asp)
Example: The Diadumene lineata or Orange-striped sea anemone has the following characteristics:
- Environment - Kaneohe bay, Oahu, Hawai‘i
- Attaches itself to the undersides of stones or shells, on pilings or floating docks
- Carnivore - uses the stinging cells in its tentacles to capture plankton
- Small anemone with tentacular crown
- Shows extreme tolerance towards abiotic factors
Using these characteristics the anemone's classifications can be detemined using a taxonomic key as follows:
- Species: Diadumene lineata
- Family: Diadumenidae
- Order: Actinaria - sea anemones
- Class: Anthozoa - consists of a tubular body terminating in a mouth surrounded by a ring of tentacles.
- Phylum: Cnidaria - includes such diverse forms as jellyfish, hydra, sea anemones, and corals. Two basic body forms, medusa and polyp - Polyps They have tubular bodies; one end is attached to the stationary object, and a mouth (usually surrounded by tentacles) is found at the other end.
- Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
A detailed discussion of taxonomic keys can be found at: http://www.uprm.edu/biology/profs/betancourtc/taxonomia3.htm
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