Identification (biology)
Identification in biology is the process of assigning a pre-existing individual or class name to an individual organism. Identification of organisms to individual names (or codes) may be based on individualistic natural body features (e. g.), experimentally created individual markers (e.g., color dot patterns), or natural individualistic molecular markers (similar to those used in maternity or paternity identification tests). Individual identification is used, e.g., in ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

, wildlife management
Wildlife management
Wildlife management attempts to balance the needs of wildlife with the needs of people using the best available science. Wildlife management can include game keeping, wildlife conservation and pest control...

 or conservation biology
Conservation biology
Conservation biology is the scientific study of the nature and status of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction...

. The more common form of identification is the identification of organisms to common (e. g., "lion") scientific (e. g., "Panthera leo") class names. By necessity this is based on inherited features ("characters") of the organisms, the inheritance forming the basis of defining a class. The features may, e. g., be morphological, anatomical, physiological, behavioral, or molecular.

The term "determination" may occasionally be used as a synonym for identification (e. g.), or as in "determination slips".

Identification methods may be manual or computerized and may involve using identification key
Identification key
In biology, an identification key is a printed or computer-aided device that aids the identification of biological entities, such as plants, animals, fossils, microorganisms, and pollen grains...

s, browsing through fields guide that contain (often illustrated) species accounts, or comparing the organism with specimens from natural history collections.

See also

  • DNA barcoding
    DNA barcoding
    DNA barcoding is a taxonomic method that uses a short genetic marker in an organism's DNA to identify it as belonging to a particular species. It differs from molecular phylogeny in that the main goal is not to determine classification but to identify an unknown sample in terms of a known...

  • DNA profiling
  • Identification (disambiguation)
  • Molecular marker
  • Morphological identification
  • Physiological identification
  • Strain identification
  • Taxonomy
    Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species, and arranging them into a classification. The field of taxonomy, sometimes referred to as "biological taxonomy", revolves around the description and use of taxonomic units, known as taxa...

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