Genitives of species and subspecies nomina derived from personal names should not be emended



Article 31 of the Code allows to form a species or subspecies from a personal name, using a nomen in the genitive case. Some zoologists have construed this rule as meaning that such nomina should always end in -i if dedicated to a man, in -ae if dedicated to a woman, in -arum to several women and in -orum to several persons including at least one man. They therefore proposed emendations to those nomina which they considered ill-formed under this interpretation. A detailed analysis shows that the latter is wrong, and that the original spelling (including its ending) of any new nomen based on a personal name should not be modified (except possibly in a few very rare cases). New spellings proposed by some authors for the reasons above are unjustified emendations, with their own authors and dates. Some problems related to homonymy in nomina based on personal names are also discussed. In conclusion, I propose a rewording of a few Articles of the Code to remedy some of the ambiguities pointed to by this analysis.


Code, nomenclature, spelling, personal name, gender, genitive, stem, ending, emendation, homonymy


Anonymous [International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature] 1999. International code of zoological nomenclature. Fourth edition. London, International Trust for zoological Nomenclature, xxix + 306 pp.

Applegarth, J.S. (1989) Index of authors in taxonomic herpetology. In: Adler, K. (Ed.), Contributions to the history of herpetology, SSAR, Oxford (Ohio, USA), 143–178.

Applegarth, J.S. (1994) Wildlife surveying and monitoring methods: Amphibians and Reptiles of the Eugene District. United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Eugene, Oregon.

Bauer, A.M. & Das, I. (2000) A review of the gekkonid genus Calodactylodes (Reptilia: Squamata) from India and Sri Lanka. Journal of South Asian natural History, 5, 25–35.

Böhme, W. & Köhler, J. (2005) Do endings of adjective flectible species names affect stability? A final note on the gender of Podarcis Wagler, 1830 (Reptilia, Lacertidae). Bonner zoologische Beiträge, “2004”, 53, 293–295.

Bossuyt, F. & Dubois, A. (2001) A review of the frog genus Philautus Gistel, 1848 (Amphibia, Anura, Ranidae, Rhacophorinae). Zeylanica, 6, 1–112.

Boulenger, G.A. (1909) Descriptions of four new frogs and a new snake discovered by Mr. H. Sauter in Formosa. Annals & Magazine of natural History, (8), 4, 492–495.

Boulenger, G.A. (1919) Descriptions of three new batrachians from the Garo Hills, Assam. Records of the indian Museum, 16, 207–208.

Brandon-Jones, D., Duckworth, W., Jenkins, P.D., Rylands, A.B. & Sarmiento, E.E. (2007) The genitive of species-group scientific names formed from personal names. Zootaxa, 1541, 41–48.

Chester Bradley, J. (1961) Preface. In: Anonymous [International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature], International code of zoological nomenclature, First edition, International Trust for zoological Nomenclature, London, iv–vi.

Corbet, G.B. & Hill, J.E. (1992) The mammals of the Indomalayan region: a systematic review. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Crochet, P.-A. & Dubois, A. (2004) Recent changes in the taxonomy of European amphibians and reptiles. In: Gasc, J.-P., Cabela, A., Crnobrnja-Isailovic, J., Dolmen, D., Grossenbacher, K., Haffner, P., Lescure, J., Martens, H., Martínez-Rica, J. P., Maurin, H., Oliveira, M. E., Sofianidou, T. S., Veith, M. & Zuiderwijk, A., Atlas of amphibians and reptiles in Europe, Second edition, Paris, SEH & MNHN, Collection Patrimoines Naturels, 29, 495–516.

Das, I. (2006) Nomenclatural notes on a Caecilian (Amphibia: Gymnophiona) name. Herpetological Review, 37, 154.

Dickinson, E.C. (Ed.) (2003) The Howard and Moore complete checklist of the birds of the world. Third edition. Christopher Helm, London.

Dubois, A. (1987a) Living amphibians of the world: a first step towards a comprehensive checklist. Alytes, 5, 99–149.

Dubois, A. (1987b) Miscellanea taxinomica batrachologica (II). Alytes, 6, 1–9.

Dubois, A. (2000) Synonymies and related lists in zoology: general proposals, with examples in herpetology. Dumerilia, 4, 33–98.

Dubois, A. (2005) Proposed Rules for the incorporation of nomina of higher-ranked zoological taxa in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. 1. Some general questions, concepts and terms of biological nomenclature. Zoosystema, 27, 365–426.

Dubois, A., Crombie, R.I. & Glaw, F. (2005) Amphibia Mundi. 1.2. Recent amphibians: generic and infrageneric taxonomic additions (1981-2002). Alytes, 23, 25–69.

Dubois, A. & Ohler, A. (1998) A new species of Leptobrachium (Vibrissaphora) from northern Vietnam, with a review of the taxonomy of the genus Leptobrachium (Pelobatidae, Megophryinae). Dumerilia, 4, 1–32.

Duckworth, J.W. & Alström, P. (2004) Motacilla samveasnae is the correct scientific name for the Mekong wagtail. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club, 124, 290–292.

Duellman, W.E. (1993) Amphibian species of the world: additions and corrections. The University of Kansas Museum of natural History special Publications, 21, [ii] + iii + 372 pp.

Dutta, S.K. (1985) Replacement names for two Indian species of Philautus (Anura: Rhacophoridae). Journal of the Bombay natural History Society, 82, 219–220.

Fei, L. & Ye, C. (2005) Two new species of Megophryidae from China. In: Fei, L., Ye, C., Huang, Y., Jiang, J. & Xie, F., An illustrated key to Chinese amphibians, Sichuan Publishing Group, Sichuan Publishing House of Science & Technology, 253–255. [In Chinese].

Findlay, G.M., Stefanopoulo, G.J., Davey, T.H. & Mahaffy, A.F. (1936) Yellow fever immune bodies in the blood of African animals: preliminary observations. Transactions of the royal Society of tropical Medicine & Hygiene, 29, 419–424.

Ford, S.M. (1994) Taxonomy and distribution of the owl monkey. In: Aotus: the owl monkey, London, Academic Press, 1–57.

Frost, D.R. (Ed.) (1985) Amphibian species of the world. Lawrence, Allen Press & Association of Systematics Collections, [iv] + v + 732 pp.

Gardner, A.L. & Hayssen, V. (2004) A guide to constructing and understanding synonymies for Mammalian Species. Mammalian Species, 739, 1–17.

Glaw, F. & Vences, M. (1994) A fieldguide to the amphibians and reptiles of Madagascar. Second edition, including mammals and freshwater fish. Vences & Glaw, Köln, 480 pp, 48 pl.

Gorzula, S. & Searis, J.C. (1998) Contribution to the herpetofauna of the Venezuelan Guayana. 1. A data base. Scientia Guaianae, 8, xviii + 269 pp.

Groves, C.P. (1989) A theory of human and primate evolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Groves, C.P. (1993) Order Primates. In: Wilson, D. E. & Reeder, D. M. (Eds.), Mammal species of the world, Second edition, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington & London, 243–277.

Groves, C.P. (2001) Primate taxonomy. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C, viii + 350 pp.

Grubb, P. (1977) Notes on a rare deer, Muntiacus feai. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale Di Genova, 81, 202–207.

Grubb, P. (1993) Order Artiodactyla. In: Wilson, D. E. & Reeder, D. M. (Eds.), Mammal species of the world, Second edition, Washington & London, Smithsonian Institution Press, 377–414.

Highton, R., Tilley, S.G. & Wake, D.B. (2001) Caudata – Salamanders. In: Crother, B. I. (Ed.), Scientific and standard English names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding, Herpetological Circulars, Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, “2000”, 29, 18–30.

Hillis, D.M. & de Sá, R. (1988) Phylogeny and taxonomy of the Rana palmipes group (Salientia: Ranidae). Herpetological Monographs, 2, [i] + 26 pp.

Iskandar, D.T. & Colijn, E. (2000) Preliminary checklist of Southeast Asian and New Guinean herpetofauna. I. Amphibians. Treubia, 31 (suppl.), 1–133.

Klaver, C.J.J. & Böhme, W. (1997) Chamaeleonidae. Das Tierreich, 112.

Kottelat, M. (2001) Nomenclatural status of names of tetraodontiform fishes based on Bibron’s unpublished work. Zoosystema, 23, 605–618.

Lynch, G.D. (1979) The amphibians of the lowland tropical forests. In: Duellman, W. E., The South American herpetofauna: its origin, evolution, and dispersal, Monograph of the Museum of Natural History, The University of Kansas, 7, 189–215.

Lynch, J.D. (1980) Systematic status and distribution of some poorly known frogs of the genus Eleutherodactylus from the Chocoan lowlands of South America. Herpetologica, 36, 179–189.

Lynch, J.D. (1991) Three replacement names for preoccupied names in the genus Eleutherodactylus (Anura: Leptodactylidae). Copeia, 1991, 1138–1139.

Lynch, J.D. (1996) Replacement names for three homonyms in the genus Eleutherodactylus (Anura: Leptodactylidae). Journal of Herpetology, 30, 278–280.

Ma, N.S.F. & Jones, T. C. (1975) Added heterochromatin segments in chromosomes of squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). Folia Primatologica, 24, 282–292.

Maslin, T.P. (1957) Notes on the lizard Eumeces multivirgatus gaigeae from Colorado and Utah. Herpetologica, 13, 87–90.

Michels, J.P. & Bauer, A. M. (2004) Some corrections to the scientific names of Amphibians and Reptiles. Bonner zoologische Beiträge, 52, 83–94.

Nieden, F. (1926) Amphibia. Anura II. Engystomatidae. Das Tierreich, 49, xvi + 110 pp.

Ogilvie, M.B. & Choquette, C.J. (1999) A dame full of vim and vigor. A biography of Alice Middleton Boring; biologist in China. Harwood, Amsterdam, xvii + 217 pp, 8 pl.

Saussure, (1916) Cours de linguistique générale. Payot, Paris.

Savage, J.M. (2002) The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. A herpetofauna between two continents, between two seas. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, xx + 934 pp.

Taylor, E.H. (1952) The frogs and toads of Costa Rica. University of Kansas Science Bulletin, 35, 577–943.

Van Rootselaar, O. (2002) New birds for the world: species described during 1999-2002. Birding World, 15, 428–431.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 1175-5326 (Print Edition) & ISSN 1175-5334 (Online Edition)
Published by Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand
A founding journal of Biotaxa