How to Be Taxonomist - Job Description, Skills, and Interview Questions

Increasing environmental pollution has caused a dramatic decline in animal populations around the world. As a result, the need for specialized taxonomists, scientists who classify plants and animals, has never been greater. Taxonomists play a vital role in helping to identify species and monitor their health, as well as providing essential data for conservation efforts.

However, with the large drop in employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these important professionals have been particularly hard hit and are struggling to find work. This is an unfortunate situation that risks further exacerbating the decline of biodiversity and the loss of species.

Steps How to Become

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. To become a Taxonomist, the first step is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in life sciences, such as biology, ecology, or zoology.
  2. Get a Master’s Degree. The next step is to obtain a master’s degree in taxonomy or a related field such as bioinformatics.
  3. Obtain Field Experience. During your studies, it is important to gain field experience. This can be done through internships or volunteer work in taxonomy-related settings.
  4. Get Certified. The next step is to become certified as a Taxonomist. This can be done by obtaining certification through a professional organization such as the International Society of Taxonomists (IST).
  5. Find Employment. After you have obtained your certification, you can begin looking for employment as a Taxonomist. This can be done through job postings or through networking with other professionals in the field.

Staying ahead and capable requires continual effort and dedication. Developing a strong base of knowledge and skills is key, as is staying up-to-date on industry trends. Doing research, taking classes, and networking with peers can help broaden your understanding of the field.

having an innovative mindset, experimenting with new technologies, and taking risks can increase the quality of work you produce. Finally, having the right tools for the job and the willingness to put in practice what you learn can help you stay ahead and capable of tackling the most complex projects.

You may want to check Herbarium Curator, Field Zoologist, and Herpetologist for alternative.

Job Description

  1. Research Scientist: Develops and implements plans to research new species, classify and describe existing species, and identify relationships between species.
  2. Herbarium Curator: Manages a herbarium collection, including sorting and arranging specimens and preparing labels for them.
  3. Conservation Biologist: Works to protect vulnerable species and their habitats, studying the interactions between them and the environment.
  4. Taxonomist: Creates and maintains taxonomic systems for classifying plants and animals, researching their characteristics and formulating theories on their relationships.
  5. Field Botanist: Collects specimens in the field for use in research projects, such as surveying plant populations or studying the effects of environmental change on plants.
  6. Geneticist: Studies the structure and function of genes and how they affect the evolution of species.
  7. Ecology Analyst: Identifies, evaluates, and monitors species and habitats, as well as develops strategies to protect them.
  8. Plant Pathologist: Investigates diseases in plants, such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses, in order to develop methods to control them.

Skills and Competencies to Have

  1. Knowledge of taxonomy, classification systems, and nomenclature
  2. Familiarity with laboratory techniques and methods used in taxonomic research
  3. Understanding of the principles of evolutionary biology, phylogenetics, and biogeography
  4. Ability to identify and classify organisms
  5. Knowledge of the principles, techniques, and practices of data collection, analysis, and interpretation
  6. Familiarity with morphology, anatomy, and physiology
  7. Understanding of software packages used for taxonomic analysis and data management
  8. Ability to interpret genetic and biochemical data
  9. Knowledge of the scientific and ethical principles of conservation
  10. Excellent communication skills and ability to write scientific reports

Taxonomists are scientists who specialize in the classification and organization of living organisms. Their expertise is invaluable for understanding the structure and relationships of species, providing a framework for further scientific research. The most important skill that a taxonomist needs to possess is a broad knowledge of the biology of the organisms being studied.

This includes being able to identify, classify, and name organisms, as well as being able to recognize the differences between related species. In addition to a thorough understanding of related biological sciences, taxonomists also need to have good communication skills in order to effectively collaborate with other scientists, as well as the ability to think critically and solve problems. These skills are crucial for taxonomists to accurately interpret data and draw meaningful conclusions from their research.

Parasitologist, Biology Professor, and Systematist are related jobs you may like.

Frequent Interview Questions

  • How do you keep up with the latest trends in taxonomy and other information management technologies?
  • Describe a taxonomy project you have completed and how you structured it?
  • What challenges have you faced when classifying and organizing large amounts of data?
  • How do you ensure accuracy and precision when creating a taxonomy?
  • Explain the process you use to create a controlled vocabulary?
  • What tools do you use to manage and structure large taxonomies?
  • How do you prioritize tasks when creating a taxonomy?
  • What strategies do you use to ensure taxonomy consistency across multiple websites or content systems?
  • How would you go about gathering user feedback to improve a taxonomy?
  • How do you ensure that your taxonomies are compliant with industry standards and regulations?

Common Tools in Industry

  1. Taxonomic software. This software helps to identify and classify organisms according to their taxonomic groupings. (eg: Phylomatic, TaxonMan)
  2. DNA Barcoding Tools. These tools aid in the identification of species by analyzing genetic sequences. (eg: BOLD Systems, Barcode of Life Database)
  3. Molecular Biology Software. This software assists in designing and running experiments related to molecular biology. (eg: Geneious, CLC Genomics Workbench)
  4. Image Analysis Software. This software helps to capture and store images related to taxonomic research. (eg: ImageJ, CellProfiler)
  5. Geographic Information Software. This software helps to map out the location of specimens and other taxonomic data. (eg: ArcGIS, QGIS)

Professional Organizations to Know

  1. American Society of Mammalogists
  2. American Society of Plant Taxonomists
  3. Botanical Society of America
  4. The International Association for Plant Taxonomy
  5. Mycological Society of America
  6. American Ornithologists' Union
  7. Entomological Society of America
  8. Society of Systematic Biologists
  9. American Institute of Biological Sciences
  10. Society of Wetland Scientists

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Common Important Terms

  1. Taxonomy. A branch of science that deals with the classification of living organisms into categories based on shared characteristics.
  2. Phylogeny. The study of evolutionary relationships between organisms.
  3. Systematics. The scientific study of the diversity of living organisms and their evolutionary relationships.
  4. Taxon. A group of organisms, or a category in a taxonomic system, that share a common set of characteristics.
  5. Species. A group of closely related organisms that are capable of interbreeding and producing viable offspring.
  6. Genus. A taxonomic rank that is below family and above species, and is used to group closely related species together.
  7. Clade. A group of organisms that share a common ancestor and are united by a set of shared characteristics.
  8. Nomenclature. The naming of organisms according to the rules set out by the International Code of Nomenclature.
  9. Morphology. The study of the form and structure of organisms.
  10. Ecology. The study of the interactions between organisms and their environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Taxonomist?

A Taxonomist is a scientist who specializes in the classification and naming of organisms, such as plants and animals.

What is Taxonomy?

Taxonomy is the practice and science of classifying and naming organisms according to their characteristics and evolutionary relationships.

What is the purpose of Taxonomy?

The purpose of Taxonomy is to create a hierarchical system of classification that can be used to identify, name and organize species.

How many taxonomic levels are there?

There are seven taxonomic levels: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species.

What is binomial nomenclature?

Binomial nomenclature is a two-part scientific name for each species, consisting of its genus name and its specific epithet.

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