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Classification of Living Things

Rating: 3 stars
Used in Course: Used in course
Submitted by: Bruce Stewart (Faculty), Sep 23, 2005
Comment: I would link to this site for my students except for a few problems that I consider important in my teaching. First, the only species concept used is the Biological Species Concept. I would suggest that this be broadened to include other important species concepts such as the Phylogenetic Species Concept and Evolutionary Species Concept. It seems that we often oversimplify the species issue to the point that we fail to teach biological realities. You might see the following paper for some thoughts of the value of teaching species concepts:
Chung, Carl. 2004. The species problem and the value of teaching the complexities of species. The American Biology Teacher, 66(6):413-417.

There is also an error that may seem minor, but it is in direct conflict with concepts I try to teach to my students. This is the species name. In the table of taxa, "sapiens" is listed as the human species name. It is not; "sapiens" is the specific epithet. The species name is a binomial, and the table is simply perpetuating a common misunderstanding that students have about this.

A third problem I have noticed after revisiting this site is that the several of the pronunciations are in error. Dipthongs should nearly always be pronounced as a single vowel sound but with the SECOND vowel long and the first vowel silent. It is true that many teachers and biologists in general are not consistent in this; however, a teaching web site with audio should have this correct. A useful reference that has a section on pronunciation of scientific terms is Triplehorn, Charles A. and Norman F. Johnson. 2005. Borror and Delongs's Introduction to the Study of Insects, 7th ed. Brooks/Cole. 864pp. (ISBN# 0-03-096835-6) The topic is covered in excellent detail in Chapter 3 entitled "Systematics, Classification, Nomenclature, and Identification."