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Domain vs. Kingdom: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 11, 2023
In biological taxonomy, a domain is a higher category than a kingdom, encompassing broader traits among living organisms.

Key Differences

Domains are the largest groups in the biological classification system, broader than kingdoms. Kingdoms are subdivisions within a domain, encompassing organisms with more specific common characteristics.
There are three recognized domains: Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya. In contrast, there are six commonly recognized kingdoms, like Animalia and Plantae, each fitting within a domain.
Domains categorize life forms based on fundamental differences in cell structure. Kingdoms, however, categorize based on more detailed traits, such as nutrition and reproductive methods.
The concept of domains is relatively new in taxonomy, introduced in the late 20th century. Kingdoms, meanwhile, have been a part of biological classification for much longer, with roots dating back to Aristotle.
In domains, organisms are primarily distinguished by their cell type (prokaryotic or eukaryotic). In kingdoms, organisms are further grouped by characteristics like complexity, mode of nutrition, and living environment.

Comparison Chart

Taxonomic Rank

Higher category
Subdivision within a domain


Three (Archaea, Bacteria, Eukarya)
Six commonly recognized (e.g., Animalia, Plantae)

Basis of Categorization

Fundamental cell structure (prokaryotic/eukaryotic)
More specific traits (nutrition, reproduction)

Introduction in Taxonomy

Late 20th century
Ancient, with modern system since 18th century

Organism Grouping

By cell type
By characteristics like complexity, nutrition, habitat

Domain and Kingdom Definitions


A field of activity, knowledge, or influence.
Quantum mechanics is a challenging domain in physics.


A politically organized community or major territorial unit.
The ancient kingdom was known for its remarkable architecture.


In computing, a group of networked computers under a central administration.
The company's domain includes hundreds of computers.


A major taxonomic category below domain, grouping similar phyla.
Fungi is a kingdom distinct from Plantae.


An area owned or controlled by a specific person or entity.
The king ruled over his domain with fairness.


A realm associated with or regarded as being under the control of a particular person or thing.
In the kingdom of fashion, trends change rapidly.


Highest taxonomic rank in biological classification.
Eukarya is one of the three domains of life.


An area or sphere in which one holds a preeminent position.
In the kingdom of jazz, he was a celebrated figure.


A realm in which specific rules, laws, or powers apply.
Cybersecurity is a domain requiring specialized knowledge.


The spiritual reign or authority of God or Christ.
Many religions speak of a heavenly kingdom.


A territory over which rule or control is exercised.


A political or territorial unit ruled by a sovereign.


A sphere of activity, influence, or knowledge
The domain of history.


The eternal spiritual sovereignty of God or Christ.


The set of all possible values of an independent variable of a function.


The realm of this sovereignty.


How many domains are there in biology?

There are three: Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya.

Is the concept of domains universally accepted?

While widely accepted, some taxonomists debate aspects of domain classification.

What are some examples of kingdoms?

Examples include Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, Archaea, and Bacteria.

Are domain classifications based on genetic analysis?

Yes, domains are largely defined by genetic and molecular differences.

Has the classification of domains evolved over time?

Yes, it has evolved, particularly with advances in molecular biology.

Can a domain encompass multiple kingdoms?

Yes, each domain encompasses several kingdoms.

Do all kingdoms contain multicellular organisms?

No, some kingdoms like Bacteria consist of unicellular organisms.

Do domains only include living organisms?

Yes, domains categorize living organisms based on cell structure.

Is the term 'kingdom' used outside of biology?

Yes, in contexts like politics, religion, and metaphorical uses.

Are there kingdoms that don’t fit into the traditional categories?

Scientific advancements have led to re-evaluation and sometimes reclassification of certain groups.

Can the kingdom classification of an organism change?

Yes, it can change with new scientific evidence or classification approaches.

What is the significance of domain classification in education?

It provides a foundational understanding of biological diversity and organization.

Can a kingdom be part of two different domains?

No, each kingdom is exclusive to one specific domain.

How does domain classification impact scientific research?

It provides a fundamental framework for understanding the relationships and evolution of life forms.

How do domain and kingdom classifications relate to evolutionary biology?

They help trace the evolutionary history and relationships of different life forms.

Are domain and kingdom the highest classifications in taxonomy?

Domain is the highest, with kingdom being a subdivision within a domain.

Is the kingdom classification relevant in environmental studies?

Yes, it helps in understanding biodiversity and ecological relationships.

Do domain and kingdom classifications apply to viruses?

Viruses are typically not classified within the standard domain and kingdom system.

Are kingdom classifications static?

No, they can change with new scientific discoveries and understandings.

Are new kingdoms still being discovered?

As science advances, especially in microbiology, new categorizations and subdivisions can emerge.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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