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Family ( la, familia, plural ') is one of the eight major hierarchical
taxonomic rank In biological classification, taxonomic rank is the relative level of a group of organisms (a taxon) in a Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic hierarchy. Examples of taxonomic ranks are species, genus, family (biology), family, order (biology), order, ...
s in
Linnaean taxonomy Linnaean taxonomy can mean either of two related concepts: # the particular form of biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical stru ...
; it is classified between
order Order, ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is a quality that is characterized by a person’s interest in keeping their surroundings and themselves well organized, and is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness a ...
and
genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying gr ...
. A family may be divided into
subfamilies In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions ...
, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example,
walnut A walnut is the Nut (fruit), nut of any tree of the genus ''Juglans'' (family Juglandaceae), particularly the Persian or English walnut, ''Juglans regia''. A walnut is the edible seed of a drupe, and thus not a true botanical nut. It is com ...

walnut
trees and
hickory Hickory is a common name for trees In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method ...

hickory
trees belong to the family
Juglandaceae The Juglandaceae are a plant family known as the walnut family. They are tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usa ...
, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family". What belongs to a family—or if a described family should be recognized at all—are proposed and determined by practicing taxonomists. There are no hard rules for describing or recognizing a family, but in plants, they can be characterized on the basis of both vegetative and reproductive feature of plant species. Taxonomists often take different positions about descriptions, and there may be no broad consensus across the scientific community for some time. The publishing of new data and opinions often enables adjustments and consensus.


Nomenclature

The naming of families is codified by various international bodies using the following suffixes: *In fungal, algal, and
botanical nomenclature Botanical nomenclature is the formal, scientific naming of plants. It is related to, but distinct from taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such ...
, the family names of plants, fungi, and algae end with the suffix " -aceae", with the exception of a small number of historic but widely used names including
Compositae The family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to t ...
and
Gramineae Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing t ...
. *In zoological nomenclature, the family names of animals end with the suffix " -idae".
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History

The taxonomic term ' was first used by French botanist
Pierre Magnol Pierre Magnol (8 June 1638 – 21 May 1715) was a French people, French botanist. He was born in the city of Montpellier, where he lived and worked for most of his life. He became Professor of Botany and Director of the Royal Botanic Garden of Mont ...
in his ' (1689) where he called the seventy-six groups of plants he recognised in his tables families ('). The concept of rank at that time was not yet settled, and in the preface to the ' Magnol spoke of uniting his families into larger ', which is far from how the term is used today.
Carl Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his ennoblement Ennoblement is the conferring of nobility—the induction of an individual into the noble social class, class. Currently only a few kingdoms still grant nob ...

Carl Linnaeus
used the word ' in his ' (1751) to denote major groups of plants:
tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only wood plants with se ...

tree
s,
herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is app ...

herb
s,
fern A fern (Polypodiopsida or Polypodiophyta ) is a member of a group of vascular plant Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from Greek τραχεῖα ἀρτηρία ''trācheia art ...

fern
s, palms, and so on. He used this term only in the morphological section of the book, discussing the vegetative and generative organs of plants. Subsequently, in French botanical publications, from
Michel Adanson Michel Adanson (7 April 17273 August 1806) was an 18th-century French botanist Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scienti ...
's ' (1763) and until the end of the 19th century, the word ' was used as a French equivalent of the Latin ' (or '). In
zoology Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that studies the Animal, animal kingdom, including the anatomy, structure, embryology, evolution, Biological class ...
, the family as a rank intermediate between order and genus was introduced by
Pierre André Latreille Pierre André Latreille (29 November 1762 – 6 February 1833) was a French zoologist Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that studies the Animal ...
in his ' (1796). He used families (some of them were not named) in some but not in all his orders of "insects" (which then included all
arthropod An arthropod (, (gen. ποδός)) is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton, a Segmentation (biology), segmented body, and paired jointed appendages. Arthropods form the phylum Euarthropoda,Reference showing that Euarthropoda is a phylum: ...
s). In nineteenth-century works such as the ' of
Augustin Pyramus de Candolle Augustin Pyramus (or Pyrame) de Candolle (, , ; 4 February 17789 September 1841) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government ...
and the ' of
George Bentham George Bentham (22 September 1800 – 10 September 1884) was an English botanist, described by the weed botanist Duane Isely as "the premier systematic botanist of the nineteenth century". Born into a distinguished family, he initially studied ...
and
Joseph Dalton Hooker Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (30 June 1817 – 10 December 1911) was a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, British botanist and explorer in the 19th century. He was a founder of geographical botany and Charles Darwin's closest friend ...

Joseph Dalton Hooker
this word ' was used for what now is given the rank of family.


Uses

Families can be used for evolutionary, palaeontological and genetic studies because they are more stable than lower taxonomic levels such as genera and species.


See also

*
Systematics Biological Biology is the natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), o ...
, the study of the diversity of living organisms *
Cladistics Cladistics (; ) is an approach to biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular ...

Cladistics
, the classification of organisms by their order of branching in an evolutionary tree *
Phylogenetics In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanism ...

Phylogenetics
, the study of evolutionary relatedness among various groups of organisms *
Taxonomy Taxonomy is the practice and science of categorization Categorization is the human ability and activity of recognizing shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience Experience refers to conscious , an English Par ...
*
Virus classification Virus classification is the process of naming virus A virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Bioche ...
*
List of Anuran families This list of Anuran families shows all extant families In human society, family (from la, familia) is a Social group, group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or Affinity (law), affinity (by marriage or other re ...
*
List of Testudines families There are fourteen extant family (biology), families of the order (biology), order Testudines, an order of reptile known as turtles. The testudines are some of the most ancient reptiles alive, with only the tuataras considered more primitive. There ...
*
List of fish families This is a list of fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. They form a sister group to the tunicates, together forming the Chordate#Taxonomy, olfactor ...
* List of families of spiders


References


Bibliography

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