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(pl. taxa), in biology, a term used to denote any group or rank in the classificationclassification,
in biology, the systematic categorization of organisms into a coherent scheme. The original purpose of biological classification, or systematics, was to organize the vast number of known plants and animals into categories that could be named, remembered, and
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 of organisms, e.g., class, order, family.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a group of discrete objects related by more or less common properties and characteristics, thereby serving as a basis for assigning the objects to a particular taxonomic category. The identification of a taxon may be based on various properties and characteristics of objects, such as common origin, structure, composition, shape, or function, but the set of properties and characteristics in each case must be necessary and sufficient for the given taxon to occupy a unique place in a system and not intersect other taxa.

In dealing with problems of systematics and taxonomy, it is sometimes important to make a clear distinction between the terms “taxon” and “taxonomic category.” A taxon always characterizes a specific set of objects, such as objects in the organic world, units of geographic description, or linguistic units. A taxonomic category reflects only the designation and logical conditions for distinguishing the given level of the hierarchy or organizational ranking of a system. Thus, in biology, where these categories are used most often, the concepts of species, genus, and family belong to the class of taxonomic categories, whereas the Scotch pine and rodents, for example, form taxa.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A taxonomic group or entity.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.