THE BIOMIMICRY TAXONOMY:
Biology Organized by Function
What is the Biomimicry Taxonomy?
A taxonomy is a system of classification. The Biomimicry Taxonomy is a classification system developed by the Biomimicry Institute to organize biological content on the website AskNature. The Taxonomy categorizes the different ways that organisms and natural systems meet functional challenges.
On AskNature, the ways that organisms and other living systems meet functional challenges are called strategies. The Biomimicry Taxonomy organizes these biological strategies by function, that is, by what the strategy does for the organism or living system. Organizing biological content by function is valuable because it allows us to look for potential solutions to similar challenges we face as humans.
Here is an example showing how AskNature represents a strategy and a related function within the Biomimicry Taxonomy. In the Taxonomy, functions are organized in a nested hierarchy. The top level, “Group,” represents a broad function performed in nature, the second level a “Sub-Group” of functions, and the third level a specific “Function.” In total, the Taxonomy features eight groups comprised of 30 sub-groups that contain more than 160 functions.
What is the organism?
Namib desert beetle
What challenge must it address?
Capturing water in a very arid climate
How does the organism address this challenge?
The beetle’s wing covers gather water from the air using nanoscale bumps and body position.
Why does the organisms need this strategy?
To capture liquid
This is represented by the Biomimicry Taxonomy as:
Group: Get, store, or distribute resources
Sub-group: Capture, absorb, or filter resources
Function: Capture, absorb, or filter liquids