What is systematics?

What Does Systematic Mean

We explain what systematics is and what this branch of biology is responsible for. Also, what are the schools of systematics.

The systematics is responsible for the description and interpretation of biological diversity.

What is systematics?

Systematics is understood to be the branch of biology that deals with the classification of the species of known living beings , from the understanding of their evolutionary or phylogenetic history. It is known as phylum (from Latin phylum ) to each rung of the evolutionary ladder described by scientists.


Thus, systematics is responsible for the description and interpretation of the biological diversity that exists on our planet, based on the fundamental unit of its study, which is the species : a group of living beings that are genetically and phenotypically similar, capable of reproducing among themselves. and generate fertile and viable offspring.

The species studied by the systematics receive a name in Latin that is known as a scientific name , and which consists of two words written in italics, the first of which corresponds to the genus (the one that begins with a capital letter) and the second to the species ( written all in lower case). For example, the human species is called Homo sapiens . These names often pay tribute to the scientists who discovered the species in question.

This branch of biology is mainly due to the studies and observations that from the 18th century gave rise to the evolutionary theory , which, refined and endorsed by the studies of Charles Darwin and later generations of biologists and naturalists, allowed to corroborate the origin evolutionary of the species and discard the creationist theses supported by the religious tradition .

Systematics uses in its studies numerous tools and concepts from close disciplines , such as taxonomy and nomenclature, which come to be techniques rather than disciplines . However, no other branch of biology, from zoology to microbiology and virology, lacks contact with the phylogenetic studies of this specialty.

See also: Anthropology

Systematic schools

The systematics comprises three branches or schools, which propose specific methods of understanding and representation of evolutionary history. These schools are:

  • Evolutionary school. It is based on the use of four main criteria to classify and organize life : morphological or bodily differences, adaptive niches, species richness, and minimal monophyly.
  • Phenetic taxonomy. Considering that establishing the real and objective history of the evolution of life is impossible, he proposes rather to establish stable and practical categories to classify it, instead of trying to reconstruct the past of the species. To do this, it uses mathematics and phenograms , representations that consider the degree of similarity between species.
  • Cladistics. Emerged in 1950 by William Hennig and widely developed since then, it proposes to understand the history of life from monophyletic groups : those in which an ancestral species and all its descendants are found.
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