Feedback needed: Guidelines for consistency in taxonomy

A large male in the highlands of “La Reserva” feeding on an abundance of Paspalum conjugatum (Photo by S. Blake).

A large male in the highlands of “La Reserva” feeding on an abundance of Paspalum conjugatum. The question is…are you sure it is *really* P. conjugatum? (Photo by S. Blake).


We’re trying to streamline the way in which Biotropica authors list the names of species with which they work in the text of articles.  What are the main sources of current taxonomy for the organisms with which you work?  I can think of a few:

  • Plants: APG III (see Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. [A.P.G.] 2009. An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161:105-121. DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x. or
  • Mammals: Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), Johns Hopkins University Press, 2,142 pp. (Available from Johns Hopkins University Press, 1-800-537-5487 or (410) 516-6900, or at

What others can you suggest? We are especially in need of suggestions from those working on Birds, Fish, Herps, and Mollusks.

Finally, are there journals whose guidelines on taxonomy are excellent and that you think we should take a look at? Here are some that I have found:

  1. Ibis: “Authorities and dates for the Latin binomial of bird species are not used in the title or summary, and only on the first mention in the main body of the text. Thereafter, the common name is used. Follow the BOU’s The British List, and Knox et al. (2004), Taxonomic recommendations for British birds (Ibis 144: 518–525). Apply capitals as follows: ‘Short-eared Owl’, ‘Red-winged Grey Warbler’, but note ‘owls’, ‘warblers’.”
  2. Insectes Sociaux: “Taxonomic keys and online tools used in identifying species should be cited in the article references. If a museum collection was used to assist in identifications that resource should be mentioned in the text.”
  3. Ecological Entomology: “Taxonomic affiliation and authority should be given at the first mention of a species in the text.”
  4. Fungal Biology: In accordance with the changes made in the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature at the St Louis Congress in 1999, author citations of scientific names are not used in Fungal Biology unless the papers are taxonomic or nomenclatural. Further, in those cases author citations are only used where either the date of publication of the name, or the full bibliographic reference to the place of original publication is given. Where only the year is given, it is not placed in parenthesis and the reference is not given in full in the list of References (details can be located through the Index Fungorum database if required). Author citations for the names of host plants, insects and other organisms mentioned are not given under any circumstances. Scientific names of all ranks are placed in italic type (e.g. Ascomycota, Boletales, Fungi, Glomaceae), as in the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. For consistency, this 11 practice is followed for all groups of organisms in Fungal Biology, including those covered by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Names not used as formal scientific ones are placed in regular type and do not start with a capital letter (e.g. ascomycetes, basidiomycetes, fungi, penicillia, pyrenomycetes). Names of cultivars (cultivated varieties) of cultivated plants are no placed in italic type but prefixed by ‘cv.’ without single inverted commas (e.g. Triticum aestivale cv. Golden Ear). Names of hybrids are indicated by a multiplication sign in Roman type immediately in front of the hybrid genus or specific name, with no space (e.g. Melampsoraxcolumbiana). When first used in the paper, and at the start of each new section, the genus name is to be given in full. Where the name is repeated, the genus name is abbreviated to its initial letter (e.g. Chaetomium globosum to C. globosum) except at the start of a new sentence. Common names of fungi and hosts should not be capitalised or placed in quotation marks, and where available follow standard lists of common names or ones used in quarantine or conservation legislation (e.g. British Society for Plant Pathology, 1984; Stace, New Flora of the British Isles, 1991; Holden, Recommended English Names for Fungi in the UK, 2003).
  5. J. Mammalogy: Mammal Species of the World, 3rd ed., or Handbook of the Mammals of the World (5 of 9 volumes published as of March 2016) are our baselines for mammal taxonomy.  Newer names accepted; older names need justification.

Additionally, taxonomic synonymic headings may be used.  These differ from headings listed above, and include full attribution of the author of the name followed by a comma and the year of publication.  Common names of new species, if provided, are centered on the next line.  NOTE that attribution is distinct from citation, and this formatting style formally distinguishes nomenclatural attribution from literature citation (which lack the comma), although authors should include these nomenclatural references in the Literature Cited.  This formatting keeps the Journal of Mammalogy consistent with attribution given in synonymies for Mammalian Species; for further guidance see Gardner and Hayssen (2004) ‘A guide to constructing and understanding synonymies for Mammalian Species’ (Mammalian Species 739:1–17):

Family Molossidae
(genus and species indeterminate)
Rattus detentus, new species Timm, Weijola, Aplin, Flannery, and Pine
Admiralties Rat
Sorex merriami Dobson, 1890
Crocidura rapax G. Allen, 1923
Meriones unguiculatus (Milne-Edwards, 1867)