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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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"Systematics" and "taxonomy" are disciplines within biology. Historically the terms have been used interchangeably. Today we define Systematics as a broad discipline that contains three components: taxonomy, the study of the process of evolution, and the study of phylogeny.

Taxonomy includes identifying, naming and classifying species. The study of the process of evolution looks at how species develop. The study of phylogeny includes determining the evolutionary relationships among species—creating a family tree of ancestor and descendent species. Visit the Tree of Life for more information on this fascinating endeavor.

MNSU offers a course in systematics called Flora of Minnesota (BIOL 442). Students learn to use taxonomic keys to identify plants. The course is taught in alternate Fall semesters and is open to anyone (no prerequisites).