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Lets say I'm studying fish biodiversity in a river. I need to identify a fish I've caught. Since I live in India, I'm going to use a taxonomic book on fishes (called Inland Fishes of India and Adjacent Countries by P.K Talwar and A.G Jhingran). Notice that most taxonomic resources deal with particular areas so make sure that you use taxonomic resources dealing with the place you found the specimen in otherwise it may not be found in that resource.

(You'll need a basic understanding of the classification of living organisms(coming soon) to better understand this article)


identifying fish biodiversity


For the purpose of this example I'm going to use a preserved specimen that died of natural causes in my aquarium.

I use the keys to continue the process of identification down the ranks from higher taxonomic rank such as the Grade Pisces to the lowest available in the book, i.e. Species.

So I start with the Key to Classes within Grade Pisces (Fish) -





Since the gill openings are singular on each side of the head it belongs to class Osteichthyes (bony fish). I then proceed to the keys for the orders under Class Osteichthyes.  







ID Biodiv


ID biodiversity


How to ID biodiversity


I move on to the keys to the families under Order Cypriniformes.

Using taxonomic keys


Identifying biodiversity


From there I move on to the Subfamilies under Family Balitoridae 


using taxonomic keys



From there I move on to Genera under Nemacheilinae


how to ID biodiversity



On from there to the keys to the subgenera and species under Genus Nemacheilus.


using taxonomic keys



using ID keys


using taxonomic keys


ID taxonomy


Finally I reach the species ---> Nemacheilus botia (or Acanthocobitis botia as it is known due to being in subgenus Acanthocobitis)

Using keys to identify species is actually quite easy, it just needs patience, a good view of the morphological features or characteristics of the individual whose species you are trying to identify and practice.


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References -

Inland Fishes of India and Adjacent Countries by P.K Talwar and A.G Jhingran