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CHAPTER 1

WHAT IS A TAXONOMY?

Taxonomy: definition, results and benefits

What are the purposes and applications of a taxonomy? In which fields does it make sense to employ it and what uses does it have for the fine dining restaurant sector? These are some of the questions that we intend to address and that will lay the foundations for the development of a taxonomy of unelaborated products.

The first part of this volume is dedicated to defining the key concepts that we will encounter, such as taxonomy, categories, taxa and other related terms. Our aim is to give context to the reader and explain the nuances that differentiate these terms. We assess the benefits that a taxonomy can offer in the professional development and study of a discipline or sector, as well as the benefits that having a system for the organisation and categorisation of the constituent elements of the taxonomy can bring at a working level. Moreover, we analyse possible applications both within and outside the scientific sphere.

 

The application of taxonomies in the scientific field

We take Linnaeus’ definition of scientific taxonomy as a point of reference and employ it as the basis for a more detailed study of this particular hierarchical classification system. Given that Linnaean taxonomy is not a closed system it has undergone a constant evolution since its first exposition, in line with the advancement of science. The contributions of numerous scientists have led to many developments in this system for the categorisation of species.

 

Darwin: the theory of the evolution of species

Since the first traces of life appeared on Earth more than 4,000 years ago (in the form of small aquatic cells) remarkable events have taken place, resulting in the great biological diversification that we see today. Different theories have emerged in an attempt to explain this change and to find a logical sense of how this diversity came about. Principle among them is Darwin’s theory of evolution, which proposes that natural selection is the main force of evolution and that the environment is the facilitator of this change. The diverse species that inhabit our environment today are the result of hundreds and thousands of years of evolution. For this reason, although there are marked differences between different biological groups, which are specific to each species, certain shared characteristics can also be observed. These characteristics are the legacy of a common past.

 

The applications of taxonomies in other fields and areas of non-scientific knowledge

Taxonomic classification systems are valid not only for scientific study. In recent decades, there has been a re-evaluation of their utility in other fields of knowledge, unrelated to the scientific and biological field. As a consequence, hierarchical classification systems have begun to be applied in education, computer applications and websites, and even in the field of gastronomy, with greater efficiency being observed in the ordering of the elements of study.

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