Careers in Biology Taxonomy

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

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In biology, taxonomy is the study of identification and classification of organisms. Scientists use taxonomy to identify new plant and animal species. The British newspaper, "The Guardian," estimated that as many as 114,000 new species had been identified between 2006 and 2009. Careers in biology taxonomy are expected to grow, since many new and promising drugs and medical treatments can be developed from newly discovered and classified organisms and plants.

Research Scientist

Museums and universities may employ a research scientist to conduct research projects. Using identified specimens, a research scientist attempts to classify new specimens based on similar physical features. Extensive field work may be necessary. In this capacity, a research scientist will often work with other institutions, as well as state and federal agencies. Private consulting positions also exist.

Biology Teacher

With a background in biology and taxonomy, a biology teacher has the necessary skills to teach courses such as morphology (the study of the form and structure of organisms). A teacher may lead laboratory exercises where students dissect various organisms for purposes of classification. She may show how evolution has influenced adaptations in different organisms, as manifested in their body structure. At the most basic level, she can illustrate the physical differences between organisms that are the basis for classification.

Crime Forensics

Crime scene forensics is a vital position in law enforcement. A forensics scientist will rely on his skills in taxonomy and other disciplines to identify and classify evidence found at a crime scene. For example, a forensics scientist may identify remains found at a crime scene to help determine the identity of the victim of a crime. Good documentation and attention to detail are important skills for this position. Coursework in genetics and microbiology will also be useful.

Wildlife Forensics

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employs scientists with a background in biology and taxonomy for forensics cases involving wildlife. Typical duties are similar to that of a crime forensics scientist. Identification of animal species is needed to enforce international laws regarding wildlife trade. For example, a taxonomy specialist in the Morphology Unit of the Fish and Wildlife Service may be called upon to authenticate that the remains of an animal confiscated by law enforcement officials belong to an endangered species.