Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Six Principles of the ICZN: Intro

Recently, I read the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) in it's entirety. The Code is sometimes considered to be the constitution or rulebook of zoology. It defines how new species names and other taxa can be created and then later revised. The Code provides the ground for all other work in zoology, because if we couldn't somehow classify and summarize the units of life in some meaningful and standard way, the whole of biology would be a disordered mess.

Unfortunately, very few biologists have actually read The Code (or for non zoologists, the comparable documents, the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, and the International Code for the Nomenclature of Bacteria), and because of this there is very little understanding of WHY we have the Code and why it is ultimately responsible for stability in biology as a whole.

Over the next several weeks I will be reviewing The Code through the six principles that are the main guideposts in zoological nomenclature, why they are important, and how to interpret and use them.

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