Biological classification

The heirachy of biological classification's eight major taxonomic ranks. Intermediate minor rankings are not shown.

A clade is a group consisting of an organism and all its descendants. A clade is a single "branch" on the "tree of life".[1] A clade is used when none of the standard eight taxonomic ranks is appropriate, or if a grouping fits in between to previously defined ranks.

In Linnaean systematics, the various groups are ordered into a series of taxonomic ranks (the familiar order, family etc). These ranks will by convention dictate the ending to names for some groups. Clades do not by their nature fit this scheme, and no such restriction exists as to their names in cladistics.


  1. Dupuis, Claude (1984). "Willi Hennig's impact on taxonomic thought". Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 15: 1–24. ISSN 0066-4162.
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