Organized by taxonomy

The overall structure of this reference work is based on the classification of animals into naturally related groups, a discipline known as taxonomy—the science through which various organisms are discovered, identified, described, named, classified, and catalogued. Starting with the simplest life forms, the lower metazoans and lesser deuterostomes, in volume 1, the series progresses through the more complex animal classes, culminating with the mammals in volumes 12-16. Volume 17 is a stand-alone cumulative index.

Organization of chapters within each volume reinforces the taxonomic hierarchy. In the case of the Mammals volumes, introductory chapters describe general characteristics of all organisms in these groups, followed by taxonomic chapters dedicated to Order, Family, or Subfamily. Species accounts appear at the end of the Family and Subfamily chapters To help the reader grasp the scientific arrangement, each type of chapter has a distinctive color and symbol:

• =Order Chapter (blue background)

▲ =Monotypic Order Chapter (green background)

▲ =Family Chapter (yellow background)

A =Subfamily Chapter (yellow background)

Introductory chapters have a loose structure, reminiscent of the first edition. While not strictly formatted, Order chapters are carefully structured to cover basic information about member families. Monotypic orders, comprised of a single family, utilize family chapter organization. Family and subfamily chapters are most tightly structured, following a prescribed format of standard rubrics that make information easy to find and understand. Family chapters typically include:

Thumbnail introduction Common name Scientific name Class Order Suborder Family

Thumbnail description Size

Number of genera, species Habitat

Conservation status Main essay

Evolution and systematics

Physical characteristics

Distribution

Habitat

Behavior

Feeding ecology and diet Reproductive biology Conservation status Significance to humans Species accounts Common name Scientific name Subfamily Taxonomy

Other common names

Physical characteristics

Distribution

Habitat

Behavior

Feeding ecology and diet Reproductive biology Conservation status Significance to humans Resources Books Periodicals Organizations Other

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