taxonomy vs. systematics

Jensen, Douglas Paige jensendp at
Mon Nov 2 10:26:33 EST 1998

The way I learned it:  
	TAXONOMY is primarily concerned with classification 
(nomenclature, of course, being the rules of 
	SYSTEMATICS, is much broader, including studies of 
all types of 'relationships.'  In this sense, sytematics 
includes taxonomy, morphology, anatomy, phylogenetics, some 
genetics, cytology, floristics, biogeography, and other 
	The general feeling is sometimes given that the 
term "taxonomy" is dry, while "systematics" is dynamic and 

The way I consider it now:  Taxonomy and systematics are mostly 
identical, and we choose whichever we prefer, depending on 
current trends and personal choice. If systematics truly is 
dynamic and 'sexy', I certainly wouldn't call myself a 
taxonomist, although my students might.  
	Furthermore, arguing about what to classify 
ourselves and our fields really is a moot point.  We are 
scientists who are interested in classification and 
evolution of plants, regardless of what we call ourselves.

	I suppose from my comments that some of y'all might 
classify me as a lumper.

Doug Jensen

Douglas P. Jensen
Department of Biology
MSC 7801
James Madison University
Harrisonburg  VA  22807
phone: (540)568-3343
jensendp at

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