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Biodiversity : The Variety of Life on Earth Index

Biodiversity
Collecting, Describing and Classifying
How Biologists Classify Species : Similarities and Differences

Topic Chapters Index

 

The images hyperlink to more information about each group

Bacteria Kingdom

Bacteria icon

Bacteria

 

Protoctista Kingdom

Protoctista icon

Protoctista

 

Fungi Kingdom

Fungi icon

Fungi

 

The Plant Kingdom

Moss icon

Mosses and Liverworts

Fern icon

Ferns

Conifer icon

Conifers

Flowering Plant icon

Flowering Plants

 

The Animal Kingdom

Vertebrate Groups

Lionfish icon

Fish

Frog icon (photo by Paul Billiet)

Amphibians

Snake icon

Reptiles

Falcon icon

Birds

Lion icon

Mammals

 

Invertebrate Groups

Medusa icon

Jellyfish

Sea slug icon (photo by Paul Billiet)

Molluscs

Starfish icon

Starfish

Earthworm icon

Worms

 

Arthropods

Swimming crab icon

Crustaceans

Beetle icon (photo by Paul Billiet)

Insects

Giant millipede icon

Myriapods

Tarantula icon

Spiders

 

BIODIVERSITY : PUTTING THINGS INTO GROUPS

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To put the shapes shown below into some kind of order, several classification systems could be invented. The shapes could be separated into two groups: green and blue. Each of these two groups could be separated into subgroups. For example, the green shapes could be separated into circles and non-circles. The non-circles could be separated into groups of shapes with three sides and shapes with four sides.

 

Putting Things Into Groups

 

Organisms can be classified in the same way that these shapes can be classified. Once a classification system is established, every scientist must follow that system.

Once the group of organisms has been classified biologists can try to identify each new organism found. If the new specimen does not correspond to any that have previously been described, then a new species has been discovered.

The first classification systems for the organisms on Earth had only two groups: Plants and Animals. As more and more organisms have been discovered, it has been necessary to create three new groups.

One reason for this is that when the microscope was invented over three hundred years ago, biologists discovered a whole new part of the biosphere that had never been observed by humans. As they started to classify microscopic organisms, scientists realized that some of them simply could not be considered either plants or animals. That is why three new groups had to be created and that is why most of the species in the new groups are micro-organisms.

 

KINGDOMS

 

The kingdoms can be subdivided into smaller groups called phyla (singular = phylum). For some kingdoms, only one phylum is given as an example but for others there are several.

 

 

 

 

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