History of Taxonomy


Taxonomy is the theory and practice of making classifications and detecting relationships. The formal classification of organisms in Western science begins around 1753, but societies worldwide have always assigned organisms to named groups.

Keywords: classification; systematics; evolution; phylogeny; natural history; botany

Further Reading

Farber PL (2000) Finding Order in Nature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Jardine N (ed.) (2001) History and philosophy of taxonomy. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 32(2): 203–383.

Stevens PF (1994) The Development of Biological Systematics. New York: Columbia University Press.

Stevens PF (1997) J.D. Hooker, George Bentham, Asa Gray and Ferdinand Mueller on species limits in theory and practice: a mid‐nineteenth century debate and its repercussions. Historical Records of Australian Science 11: 345–370.

Winsor MP (1991) Reading the Shape of Nature. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Winsor MP (2000) Species, demes and the omega taxonomy: Gilmour and the New Systematics. Biology and Philosophy 15: 349–388.

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Stevens, Peter F(Jan 2003) History of Taxonomy. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003093]