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In biological classification, the order (ordo]]) is

  1. a used in the classification of organisms and recognized by the nomenclature codes. The well-known ranks in descending order are: , domain, kingdom, , class, order, family, , and , with order fitting in between class and family. An immediately higher rank, superorder, is sometimes added directly above order, with suborder directly beneath order.
  2. a taxonomic unit (a ; plural taxa) in the rank of order (e.g. , ). In that case the plural is orders (Latin ordines).

What does and does not belong to each order is determined by a , as is whether a particular order should be recognized at all. Often there is no exact agreement, with different taxonomists each taking a different position. There are no hard rules that a taxonomist needs to follow in describing or recognizing an order. Some taxa are accepted almost universally, while others are recognized only rarely.

(2022). 9780030270444, Cengage Learning. .

The name of an order is usually written with a capital letter. For some groups of organisms, their orders may follow consistent naming schemes. Orders of , , and use the suffix -ales (e.g. ). Orders of and use the Latin suffix -(i)formes meaning 'having the form of' (e.g. ), but orders of and are not so consistent (e.g. , , ).

Hierarchy of ranks

For some covered by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, several additional classifications are sometimes used, although not all of these are officially recognized.


In their 1997 classification of mammals, and Bell used two extra levels between superorder and order: grandorder and mirorder. Michael Novacek (1986) inserted them at the same position. (2005) inserted them between superorder and magnorder instead.

(2022). 9780632056378, Blackwell Publishing.
This position was adopted by Systema Naturae 2000 and others.

In botany, the ranks of subclass and suborder are secondary ranks pre-defined as respectively above and below the rank of order. Any number of further ranks can be used as long as they are clearly defined.

The superorder rank is commonly used, with the ending -anae that was initiated by 's publications from 1966 onwards.

The order as a distinct rank of biological classification having its own distinctive name (and not just called a higher genus (genus summum)) was first introduced by the German botanist Augustus Quirinus Rivinus in his classification of plants that appeared in a series of treatises in the 1690s. was the first to apply it consistently to the division of all three kingdoms of nature (then , , and ) in his (1735, 1st. Ed.).

For plants, Linnaeus' orders in the Systema Naturae and the Species Plantarum were strictly artificial, introduced to subdivide the artificial classes into more comprehensible smaller groups. When the word ordo was first consistently used for natural units of plants, in 19th century works such as the Prodromus of de Candolle and the Genera Plantarum of Bentham & Hooker, it indicated taxa that are now given the rank of family. ( See , 'natural order'.)

In French botanical publications, from 's Familles naturelles des plantes (1763) and until the end of the 19th century, the word famille (plural: familles) was used as a French equivalent for this Latin ordo. This equivalence was explicitly stated in the Alphonse De Candolle's Lois de la nomenclature botanique (1868), the precursor of the currently used International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants.

In the first international Rules of botanical nomenclature from the International Botanical Congress of 1905, the word family (familia) was assigned to the rank indicated by the French famille, while order (ordo) was reserved for a higher rank, for what in the 19th century had often been named a cohors Page 1. (plural cohortes).

Some of the plant families still retain the names of Linnaean "natural orders" or even the names of pre-Linnaean natural groups recognised by Linnaeus as orders in his natural classification (e.g. Palmae or Labiatae). Such names are known as descriptive family names.

In , the Linnaean orders were used more consistently. That is, the orders in the zoology part of the Systema Naturae refer to natural groups. Some of his ordinal names are still in use (e.g. for the order of moths and butterflies; for the order of flies, mosquitoes, midges, and gnats).

In , the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses's virus classification includes fifteen taxa to be applied for viruses, viroids and satellite nucleic acids: realm, subrealm, kingdom, subkingdom, phylum, subphylum, class, subclass, order, suborder, family, subfamily, genus, subgenus, and species. There are currently fourteen viral orders, each ending in the suffix -virales.

See also

Works cited

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