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What is the difference between alpha and beta taxonomy?

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People mostly get confused with this word, Taxonomy. While it is nothing but the arrangement of biological species with some laws. Every living organism needs a name or classification to which they belong to and this is where taxonomy plays a role. It provides the naming, species and complete identification of the newly found organism.

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Taxonomy can be elaborately defined as the science of arrangement, defining and naming of plants and animals on the basis of principles, rules, their shared characteristics and some procedure. Taxonomy comes with mainly three levels called alpha, beta, and gamma taxonomy.

Carolus Linnaeus is known as Father of Taxonomy. And, both Alpha and Beta come under the process of Taxonomy.

Alpha (α) Taxonomy:

This is the very initial phase of taxonomic activity which involves identification, naming, and characterization of biological species. It is also known as classical taxonomy and parent of other taxonomy. The newly discovered species can be named during this phase.

Beta (β) Taxonomy: 

The Beta level is the second stage of the activity and involves the morphology and arrangement of these species into further biological categories of same species. The division of different species into their group of relatives. β-taxonomy relates to the search for a natural system of classification.

In other words, Alpha taxonomy can be said as the alphabet of biology while Beta taxonomy is the grammar of biology. And together these two creates the relational link between the different biological species.

There is one another level of taxonomy knows as Gamma Taxonomy, which rarely involves in the taxonomy process. This mainly designates the analysis of variations and evolutionary studies. It is not common for all species but is limited.


Taxonomy is a branch of science that encompasses the description, identification, nomenclature, and classification of organisms.There are three levels of taxonomy which has been introduced to make classification easy and understandable. These three levels are Alpha, Beta and Gamma Taxonomy:

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  • Alpha - Alpha taxonomy refers to the discipline of finding, describing and naming taxon. Taxon is a single unit which incorporates one or more organisms to form a single unit. William Bertram was the person who first coined the term Alpha taxonomy in his papers which were published 1935-1937.
  • Beta - Secondly, the sorting of species into related class and their arrangement into higher hierarchy ranks or categories is also very important. Therefore, a new taxonomic process, known as Beta taxonomy has been introduced. Beta taxonomy basically deals with delimitation of species using investigative, sophisticated and laboratory technologies.
  • Gamma - Lastly, Gama taxonomy is the level of taxonomy which keeps the account of evolutionary sequence and intra specific variations and also a casual study and interpretation of organic diversity.

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