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Taxonomical flow chart

Taxonomy is the process of naming and classifying things such as animals and plants into groups within a larger system, according to their similarities and differences.


Everything living on the planet is placed in a different Class to allow the vast number of life forms on Earth to be named and sorted.


Taxonomy is a continuous process where experts in different fields of study examine newly discovered and existing life forms to ensure they are correctly named and classified.


Better equipment, new methods and scientific advances (such as DNA profiling) and  increased study have resulted in newly discovered species being classified,  known species are re-classified  and re-named and sometimes found to be a new species not known to exist before.


We who study Bryophytes at lower levels do not have to learn everything about Taxonomy. It is however something  we need to  be aware of  as it can occasionally result in the names of species being changed and/or allocated to a new or different group. A basic knowledge also helps in understanding names, groups  and terminology.

This is a very basic introduction with much more information available both in text and online.

 Taxonomic Divisions in Bryophytes:


Domain - Eukarya


Kingdom - Plantae


Phyla -  Bryophyta (see below for Divisions)


Class - Bryopsida

Order - Bryales

Family - Bryaceae

To view a list of Bryophyte Families, please click on this link.

Genus - This is the first part of the Binomial Taxonomic name.

To view a list of Bryophyte Genera, please click on this link.

Species - To view a list of UK Bryophyte species, please click this link.


For practical purposes, all you need to be aware of is that the Phyla of Bryophyta once included all mosses, liverworts and hornworts.

This has now been split into three Divisions

Mosses (phylum Bryophyta),

Liverworts (phylum Marchantiophyta)

Hornworts (phylum Anthocerotophyta)





Everything consisting of organic matter with the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.



There are three Domains:


  1. Archaea (single-celled organisms)

  2. Bacteria (Microscopic single-celled organisms)

  3. Eukarya (organisms with cells that contain a nucleus as well as membrane-bound organelles - includes plantae, Animalia and Fungi Kingdoms)


There are six Kingdoms:







There are a large number of Phyla with

35 (approximately) Animal phyla

12 Plant Phyla

7 Fungi Phyla

34 Bacteria Phyla


(e.g. Mammalia, Aves, Mollusca, Arachnida, Reptilia, Bryopsida)


(e.g. Primates, Carnivora, Cetacea, Insectivora, Bryales)


(e.g. Canidae, Bovidae, Elephantidae, Mustelidae, Bryaceae,


Panthera a Genus of the Family Felidae, Canis- Genera of the Family Canidae.

Pan a Genus of the Chimpanzee and Bonobo in the Family Hominidae.



This one should be straight forward and is for most plants and animals:


A biological species is a group of organisms that can reproduce with one another in nature and produce fertile offspring.


Obviously with plants such as Bryophytes that can reproduce asexually it is more like the definition below.


A biological designation for any life form that identifies it within an established ranking system based on its physical and genetic similarities to other life forms. In botany, plants are known by their scientific name, using a system known as binomial nomenclature.

For our purposes, a Species name places each of our different Bryophytes in the correct place in their Taxonomical Division irrespective of how they reproduce.


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