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Protistology is a scientific discipline devoted to the study of protists, a highly diverse group of eukaryotic organisms. All eukaryotes apart from animals, plants and fungi are considered protists. Its field of study therefore overlaps with the more traditional disciplines of phycology, mycology, and protozoology, just as protists embrace mostly unicellular organisms described as algae, some organisms regarded previously as primitive fungi, and protozoa ("animal" motile protists lacking chloroplasts).
They are a paraphyletic group with very diverse morphologies and lifestyles. Their sizes range from unicellular picoeukaryotes only a few micrometres in diameter to multicellular marine algae several metres long.
The term "protozoology" has become dated as understanding of the evolutionary relationships of the eukaryotes has improved, and is frequently replaced by the term "protistology". For example, the Society of Protozoologists, founded in 1947, was renamed International Society of Protistologists in 2005. However, the older term is retained in some cases (e.g., the Polish journal Acta Protozoologica).
Dedicated academic journals include:
Other less specialized journals, important to protistology before the appearance of the more specialized:
The field of protistology was idealized by Haeckel, but its widespread recognition is more recent. In fact, many of the researchers cited below considered themselves as protozoologists, phycologists, mycologists, microbiologists, microscopists, parasitologists, limnologists, biologists, naturalists, zoologists, botanists, etc., but made significant contributions to the field.