Wiley, Edward O., III Natural History Museum, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.
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Any one of a number of formal ranks used for organisms in a Linnaean classification. Biological classifications are orderly arrangements of organisms in which the order specifies some relationship. Taxonomic classifications are usually hierarchical and comprise nested groups of organisms. The actual groups are termed taxa. In the hierarchy, a higher taxon may include one or more lower taxa, and as a result the relationships among taxa are expressed as a divergent hierarchy that is formally represented by tree diagrams. In Linnaean classifications, taxonomic categories are devices that provide structure to the hierarchy of taxa without the use of tree diagrams. By agreement, there is a hierarchy of categorical ranks for each major group of organisms, beginning with the categories of highest rank and ending with categories of lowest rank, and while it is not necessary to use all the available categories, they must be used in the correct order.
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