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Online Scientific Name Resources for Zoology and Biology

From: Ben Creisler
Online Scientific Name Resources for Zoology and Biology

According to the International Code of Zoological 
Nomenclature (1999) in the ICZN Appendix B General 

Establishment and formation of new names

5.....In the case of a genus-group names they should not 
be the same as names known to exist for botanical or 
microbiological genera.

Until recently, it was very complicated for an author to 
check to see if a proposed new zoological genus name was 
preoccupied by an existing zoological name, or if the name 
was the same as an existing genus name used in botany or 
microbiology. The printed or electronic resources were 
only available at major academic libraries. Now, thanks to 
expansion of content on the World Wide Web, an author can 
easily check a name online. In addition, the codes that 
govern zoological names, botanical names, and 
microbiological names are also accessible online.

Zoological Names:
The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (1999) 
is available at:

The detailed recommendations on how to form names were 
removed from the 1999 edition of the Code, but can be 
downloaded as a pdf (thanks to list-member Jocelyn 
Falconnet for pointing this out). These guidelines are 
still valid and useful.

Genus names up through 2004 can be checked in the online 
version of the Nomenclator Zoologicus:

Names published since 2004 need to be checked in the 
Zoological Record or BIOSIS, usually available as 
subscription databases at some libraries. Google or Bing 
searches may turn up such new names as well.

Botanical Names:
The most recent (2005) edition of the International Code 
Botanical Nomenclature is posted online at:

Genus names for plants can be checked in online Index 
Nominum Genericorum (ING). (This resource also includes 
names of fossil plants.):


Microbiological Names:
The 2005 version of the International Code of Nomenclature 
of Bacteria is posted at: 

More recent revisions and supplements to the code (renamed 
International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes) have 
been published in various journals. One of the most 
important of these updates is Appendix 9: Orthography, 
published in 2009. Its available for free at:

The List of Prokaryotic Names with Standing in 
Nomenclature can be checked at:

The most likely case of a zoological genus name matching a 
genus name already used in botany or microbiology is a 
name ending in -ia, based on the name of person or a 
geographical location. For example, names of plants that 
are the same as generic names later used for dinosaurs 
include Gastonia and Stormbergia. Both these names remain 
valid as zoological names because they are not preoccupied 
by other zoological names. It is unlikely that the 
dinosaur genus Gastonia and the living plant genus 
Gastonia would ever be discussed in the same paper. 
However, Stormbergia presents a problem. The genus name 
Stormbergia was given to a fossil plant in 1911 from the 
Stormberg series. Conceivably, the same paper might 
discuss both Stormbergia the dinosaur and Stormbergia the 

More about the issues surrounding the dinosaur name 
Stormbergia in a future posting.