The Living World

Taxonomical Aids

A taxonomical study of the species is used in various fields like agriculture, forestry, industry, and it actually helps us to know about our biodiversity. For correct identification of organisms, intensive laboratory and field studies are required. In this section of taxonomical aids, we will learn about how it is done.

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Taxonomical Aids

Specimens are collected from various sources and the information gathered is stored. Biologists have established certain procedures and techniques to store and preserve the information as well as the specimens. This information is known as taxonomical aids because it helps the biologists in taxonomic studies. Some taxonomical aids are as follows-


The herbarium is a collection of pressed, dried and preserved plants, mounted on paper sheets, properly labeled, systematically arranged and available for reference or study. The labels on the herbarium sheets provide information regarding the place of collection, English, local and botanical names, family, etc.

Taxonomical aids act as a quick reference system in the taxonomical study. A professor of Botany, Luca Ghini, set up the first herbarium at Pisa in Italy. Now from small personal collections, herbaria have grown into large institutions of national and international importance.

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Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Garden is a place where plants from various groups are grown for scientific study, conservation, public education, aesthetics, and Recreation. They usually house a library, laboratory, herbarium, and museum. They also offer teaching and training facilities.

The government or private organizations maintain the botanical gardens. These organizations also employee botanists and gardeners to look after the plants. Some famous botanical gardens are at Kew England, Indian Botanical garden Howrah, National botanical research institute Lucknow, etc.


A museum is a building used for preservation and exhibition of inanimate objects to illustrate the human or natural history. Biological museums are generally set up in educational institutions. Museums have a collection of preserved plants and animal specimens for study and reference. They preserve specimens in the container or jar in a preservative solution.

Plants and animals may also be preserved as dry specimens. Insects are preserved in insect boxes after collecting, ginning and pinning. Larger animals like birds and mammals are preserved by stuffing. Museums also have a collection of a skeleton of animals. Certain processes like human evolution stages are depicted with the help of models or charts.

Fossils of certain extinct animals are also displayed to give a glimpse of past life. Parts of animals like birds beak, eggs, feathers are kept for study. Along with displaying various objects about plant and animal life, museums also organize film shows related to animal life.

Zoological Park

It is an enclosed place where wild animals are publicly exhibited. It is also known as the Zoological Garden or zoo. There are over 300 zoological gardens in India. The fundamental object of any Zoological Park is to increase the public interest in the understanding of wildlife.

Zoo also provides recreation and education and is also involved in the preservation of endangered animals. Protection of wildlife from extinction requires the conservation of natural habitat along with the captive breeding of species. Zoos are taking proper care of animals. Protection against natural enemies as well as starvation and diseases is taken care of.


The term key refers to a set of alternate characters in such a manner that helps in the identification of plants and animals by selecting and eliminating the characters according to their presence or absence in the organism. Different categories use different keys. Each statement in the key is called lead. For example key for identification of animals are as follows:

  • Ear wings and mammary glands are present–  bat
  • Beak, feathers, wings are present  —  birds
  • Mammary glands, pinna. and scales are absent.  Limbs and slimy skin is present – Frog

Some other taxonomic aids

Certain written documents, as well as recording descriptions like flora, manuals, monographs and, catalogs, are used as taxonomic aids.  They also help incorrect identification of particular species. Flora consists of a complete account and distribution of plants in a given area. This provides information regarding the different types of plant species found in a given area. The monograph contains information on any taxon.

Solved Examples for You

Question: Botanical gardens and zoological parks have a collection of

  1. endemic living species only
  2. exotic living species only
  3. endemic and exotic living species
  4. only local plants and animals

Answer: (c) Collection of endemic and exotic living species. Explanation: To understand this, you can visit the zoo at Delhi or Kolkata. You can also search in Google image and you will find giraffes; along with tigers and lions. Tigers and lions are endemic species while giraffe is an exotic species.

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