Nomenclature Codes
Nomenclature codes or codes of nomenclature are the various rulebooks that govern biological taxonomic
Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species, and arranging them into a classification. The field of taxonomy, sometimes referred to as "biological taxonomy", revolves around the description and use of taxonomic units, known as taxa...

 nomenclature, each in their own broad field of organisms. To an end-user who only deals with names of species, with some awareness that species are assignable to families, it may not be noticeable that there is more than one code, but beyond this basic level these are rather different in the way they work.

The successful introduction of two-part names for species by Linnaeus
Carolus Linnaeus
Carl Linnaeus , also known after his ennoblement as , was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology...

 was the start for an ever-expanding system of nomenclature. With all naturalists worldwide adopting this approach to thinking up names there arose several schools of thought about the details. It became ever more apparent that a detailed body of rules was necessary to govern scientific names. From the mid-nineteenth century onwards there were several initiatives to arrive at worldwide-accepted sets of rules. In the course of time these became the present nomenclature codes governing the naming of:
  • Animal
    Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

    s – International Code of Zoological Nomenclature
    International Code of Zoological Nomenclature
    The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature is a widely accepted convention in zoology that rules the formal scientific naming of organisms treated as animals...

  • Plant
    Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

    s (including fungi
    A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

     and cyanobacteria):
    • International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants
      International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants
      The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants is the set of rules and recommendations dealing with the formal botanical names that are given to plants, fungi and a few other groups of organisms, all those "traditionally treated as plants"., Preamble, para...

      (ICN) (replacing the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN)), in force as of July 2011 but the text is not yet available in its final form
    • International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants
      International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants
      The International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants regulates the names of cultigens...

  • Bacteria – International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria
    International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria
    The International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria or Bacteriological Code governs the scientific names for bacteria, including Archaea. It denotes the rules for naming taxa of bacteria, according to their relative rank...

  • Virus
    A virus is a small infectious agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of organisms. Viruses infect all types of organisms, from animals and plants to bacteria and archaea...

    es – International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses
    International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses
    The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses is a committee which authorizes and organizes the taxonomic classification of viruses. They have developed a universal taxonomic scheme for viruses and aim to describe all the viruses of living organisms. Members of the committee are considered to...

     (ICTV); see also virus classification
    Virus classification
    Virus classification is the process of naming viruses and placing them into a taxonomic system. Similar to the classification systems used for cellular organisms, virus classification is the subject of ongoing debate and proposals. This is mainly due to the pseudo-living nature of viruses, which...

  • Plant associations – International Code of Phytosociological Nomenclature

Starting point

The starting point, that is the time from which these codes are in effect (usually retroactively), varies from group to group, and sometimes from rank to rank. In botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

 the starting point will often be 1753, in zoology
Zoology |zoölogy]]), is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct...

 1758. On the other hand bacteriology
Bacteriology is the study of bacteria. This subdivision of microbiology involves the identification, classification, and characterization of bacterial species...

 started anew, making a clean sweep in 1980, although maintaining the original authors and dates of publication.


There are also differences in the way codes work. For example, the ICN (the plant code) forbids tautonym
-In biology :In biology, tautonym is an informal term to indicate a scientific name of a species in which both parts of the name have the same spelling, for example Bison bison...

s, while the ICZN, (the animal code) allows them.


These codes differ in terminology, and there is a long-term project to "harmonize" this. For instance, the ICN uses "valid" in "valid publication of a name" (= the act of publishing a formal name), with "establishing a name" as the ICZN equivalent. The ICZN uses "valid" in "valid name" (= "correct name"), with "correct name" as the ICN equivalent. Harmonization is making very limited progress.


There are differences in respect of what kinds of type
Biological type
In biology, a type is one particular specimen of an organism to which the scientific name of that organism is formally attached...

s are used. The bacteriological code prefers living type cultures, but allows other kinds. There has been ongoing debate regarding which kind of type is more useful in a case like cyanobacteria.

Other codes

A more radical approach was to replace all existing codes with a new BioCode, basically a synthesis of the existing Codes. The originally planned implementation date for the BioCode draft was January 1, 2000, but agreement was not reached. However, a 2004 paper concerning the cyanobacteria does advocate a future adoption of a BioCode and interim steps consisting of reducing the differences between the codes.

A revised Biocode that, instead of replacing the existing codes, would provide a unified context for them, was proposed in 2011, but the International Botanical Congress
International Botanical Congress
International Botanical Congress is a large-scale meeting of botanists in all scientific fields, from all over the world. Authorized by the International Association of Botanical and Mycological Societies , congresses are held every six years with the venue circulating around the world. The XVIII...

 of that year declined to consider the proposal.

Another code in development is the PhyloCode
The International Code of Phylogenetic Nomenclature, known as the PhyloCode for short, is a developing draft for a formal set of rules governing phylogenetic nomenclature...

, which would regulate phylogenetic nomenclature
Phylogenetic nomenclature
Phylogenetic nomenclature or phylogenetic taxonomy is an alternative to rank-based nomenclature, applying definitions from cladistics . Its two defining features are the use of phylogenetic definitions of biological taxon names, and the lack of obligatory ranks...

 rather than Linnaean nomenclature (that is, it requires phylogenetic definitions
Phylogenetic nomenclature
Phylogenetic nomenclature or phylogenetic taxonomy is an alternative to rank-based nomenclature, applying definitions from cladistics . Its two defining features are the use of phylogenetic definitions of biological taxon names, and the lack of obligatory ranks...

 for every name, and does not contain mandatory ranks). Implementation was tentatively scheduled for sometime before 2010.

Common names

Many plants and animals also have common and familiar names in the countries where they occur. In the case of plants, and even animals, the same common name is often applied to several different organisms within one country: a periwinkle
Periwinkle may refer to:In fauna:* Periwinkle, a common name for a number of gastropod molluscs in the family Littorinidae** Common periwinkle ** Blue periwinkle...

 can be a flowering plant or one of several kinds of intertidal snail. In the case of some animals especially bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s, there is much greater uniformity in the use of common names, which generally refer to only a single species (although they are generally inclusive of subspecies).

In some case the scientific genus name has become the common name, for example, Hydra
Hydra (genus)
Hydra is a genus of simple fresh-water animal possessing radial symmetry. Hydras are predatory animals belonging to the phylum Cnidaria and the class Hydrozoa. They can be found in most unpolluted fresh-water ponds, lakes, and streams in the temperate and tropical regions and can be found by...

and Daphnia
Daphnia are small, planktonic crustaceans, between 0.2 and 5 mm in length. Daphnia are members of the order Cladocera, and are one of the several small aquatic crustaceans commonly called water fleas because of their saltatory swimming style...

. The use of English common names is governed by the normal rules of grammar in English, and they are pluralised according to the same rules. Even though common names may appear to have roots in other languages, especially Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 or Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, plurals of common names do not follow the grammatical rules of those languages. For example it is correct to refer to many hydras or many octopus
The octopus is a cephalopod mollusc of the order Octopoda. Octopuses have two eyes and four pairs of arms, and like other cephalopods they are bilaterally symmetric. An octopus has a hard beak, with its mouth at the center point of the arms...

es. However, when using the scientific binomial name or any other rank of the taxonomy, plurals are ordinarily not used at all.

External links

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