In general terms, zoology is a branch of biology that involves the study of animals and animal life. Modern zoology, however, is a discipline made up of numerous individual fields of study, and keeping track of those fields can be difficult. Zoology can be broken up into two main categories, into which the individual fields of study fall: taxonomic studies and process studies.
Taxonomic studies include fields of zoology that focus on the classification, evolution, distribution, and life cycles of various types of animals. These fields of zoology are named for the type of animals with which they are concerned. Apiology, for example, is the study of bees, and arachnology is the study of spiders.
Process studies focus on the functions, behaviors, and interactions of the animal groups that are classified in the various fields of taxonomic zoology. Process zoology is distinct from taxonomic zoology in that its different fields are not concerned with a single animal group. For example, ethology is a field of process zoology that involves the study of animal behavior and can be applied to any given animal group.
Fields of Taxonomic Zoology
Taxonomic zoology is made up of numerous categories that apply to specific animal groups, but some of the most common areas of taxonomic study are: entomology, herpetology, mammalogy, and primatology. Entomology is the study of insects. Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibious animals. Mammalogy is the study of mammals. Primatology is the study of nonhuman primates, and is, therefore, a specific branch of mammalogy.
Fields of Process Zoology
The number of fields of process zoology is much more limited than that of taxonomic zoology. Some of the major fields of process zoology are: anthrozoology, ecology, embryology, and physiology. Antrhozoology is the study of the interactions between humans and animals. Ecology is the study of how animals interact and react with their environment. Embryology is the study of the development and growth of animals from the embryonic stage. Physiology is the study of the mechanical and physical functions of animals.