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Taxonomic Hierarchy Categories and Examples

The process in which living organisms are classified into different taxa depending on their characteristics is called Taxonomy.

Classification of a living organism involves a hierarchy of steps where every step indicates a particular category or rank. The living organisms are classified into different taxa based on the presence of similar characteristics. Some of the important characteristics considered for classifying organisms include:

  • Internal and external structural organisation.
  • Structure and type of cellular framework.
  • Body developmental process.
  • Ecological information.

The categories are also called Taxa or Taxonomic Categories because they are a part of the taxonomic arrangement. All categories together form the taxonomic hierarchy. Taxonomy and taxonomic hierarchy are one of the most important topics in Class 9 Science Chapter 7 Diversity in Living Organisms

Let’s have a look at the different taxonomic categories of the taxonomic hierarchy.

The ascending order of the taxonomic hierarchy is - Kingdom, Phylum (Division), Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species.

Species

Species is the basic unit of taxonomic classification. The group of living organisms consisting of fundamental similarities belongs to one species. The taxonomic category consists of living organisms with the same morphological characteristics.

Let’s consider the example of Corvus splendens (scientific name of house crow). The two subspecies of Corvus splendens are Corvus splendens splendens (house crow) and Corvus splendens protegatus (Indian crow). The Indian and Sri Lankan crow both belong to the same species i.e. Splendens.

Genus

Genus, the next higher taxa, consists of living organisms belonging to the same genus. Compared to species of other genera, species belonging to the same genera have more characteristics in common.

Let’s consider the example of Panthera leo (Lion), Panthera tigris (Tiger), and Panthera pardus (Leopard). Lion, tiger, and leopard are all different species but belong to the same genera i.e. Panthera.

Family

The next taxonomic category is the Family that consists of a group of all related genera. The taxa family is characterised by less common features compared to genus and species.

To understand this taxonomic category, consider the examples of 3 different genera - Petunia, Solanum, and Datura. All three genera belong to the same family Solanaceae. Similarly, in the animal kingdom, Tiger belonging to the genus Panthera and the cat belonging to the genus Felis belong to the same family Felidae.

Order

The taxonomic categories species, genus, and family are characterised by the presence of similar characteristics. As we move up the order, the identification of taxa is done depending on the aggregates of characters.

The taxa consisting of two or more similar families is called Order. Various families belonging to the same order exhibit very few similar features.

Example for the order - The families Canidae and Felidae belong to the same order Carnivora. Similarly, in the plant kingdom, Solanaceae and Convolvulaceae fall under the order Polymonales.

Class

The taxa class consists of all related orders. Consider the example of mammals. The class mammalia has all related orders namely primata, Carnivora, rodents, Chiroptera, and many more. Mammals are identified and classified based on the presence of mammary glands (milk-producing glands) in females.

Similarly, organisms with feathers and wings are classified under the class Aves. Living entities that move by crawling or creeping fall under the reptiles.

Phylum

Phylum is the taxonomic category consisting of all similar classes. Phylums are identified and classified based on characteristics such as the presence of the dorsal hollow nervous system and notochord.

The total number of phylum present in the animal kingdom is 35. And, the total number of phylum present in the plant kingdom is 14. Similarly, there are 8 phyla in the kingdom Fungi.

Consider the example of phylum Chordata. Chordata has 5 classes namely - Mammals, Birds, Fishes, Reptiles, and Amphibians. The phylum Chordata is characterised by the presence of the notochord, ventral heart, hollow CNS, pharyngeal gill slits, and post-anal tail.

Kingdom

The kingdom is the highest category of the taxonomic hierarchy. The taxa kingdom consists of all related phylums. All the living entities across the globe fall under one of these 5 kingdoms - Plant Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Fungi Kingdom, Protista, and Monera.

Examples of organisms with their taxonomic categories

Animal kingdom:

The hierarchical classification of modern humans is as follows:

  • Species - Sapiens
  • Genus - Homo
  • Family - Hominidae
  • Order - Primata
  • Class - Mammalia
  • Phylum - Chordata
  • Kingdom - Animalia

The hierarchical classification of the honeybee is as follows:

  • Species - Mellifera
  • Genus - Apid
  • Family - Apidae
  • Order - Hymenoptera
  • Class - Insecta
  • Phylum - Arthropoda
  • Kingdom - Animalia

Plant kingdom:

The hierarchical classification of mango is as follows:

  • Species - Indica
  • Genus - Mangifera
  • Family - Anacardiaceae
  • Order - Sapindales
  • Class - Dicotyledonae
  • Phylum - Angiospermae
  • Kingdom - Plant

The hierarchical classification of wheat is as follows:

  • Species - Aestivum
  • Genus - Triticum
  • Family - Poaceae
  • Order - Poales
  • Class - Monocotyledonae
  • Phylum - Angiospermae
  • Kingdom - Plant

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