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In biodiversity informatics, a chresonym is the cited use of a taxon name, usually a species name, within a publication. The term is derived from the Greek χρῆσις chresis meaning "a use" [1] and refers to published usage of a name.

Biodiversity Informatics is the application of informatics techniques to biodiversity information for improved management, presentation, discovery, exploration and analysis. It typically builds on a foundation of taxonomic, biogeographic, or ecological information stored in digital form, which, with the application of modern computer techniques, can yield new ways to view and analyse existing information, as well as predictive models for information that does not yet exist. Biodiversity informatics is a relatively young discipline but has hundreds of practitioners worldwide, including the numerous individuals involved with the design and construction of taxonomic databases. The term "Biodiversity Informatics" is generally used in the broad sense to apply to computerized handling of any biodiversity information; the somewhat broader term "bioinformatics" is often used synonymously with the computerized handling of data in the specialized area of molecular biology.

Taxon Group of one or more populations of an organism or organisms which have distinguishing characteristics in common

In biology, a taxon is a group of one or more populations of an organism or organisms seen by taxonomists to form a unit. Although neither is required, a taxon is usually known by a particular name and given a particular ranking, especially if and when it is accepted or becomes established. It is not uncommon, however, for taxonomists to remain at odds over what belongs to a taxon and the criteria used for inclusion. If a taxon is given a formal scientific name, its use is then governed by one of the nomenclature codes specifying which scientific name is correct for a particular grouping.

Name word or term used for identification; see also proper noun (Q147276) and personal name (Q1071027)

A name is a term used for identification. Names can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. The entity identified by a name is called its referent. A personal name identifies, not necessarily uniquely, a specific individual human. The name of a specific entity is sometimes called a proper name and is, when consisting of only one word, a proper noun. Other nouns are sometimes called "common names" or (obsolete) "general names". A name can be given to a person, place, or thing; for example, parents can give their child a name or a scientist can give an element a name.


The technical meaning of the related term synonym is for different names that refer to the same object or concept. As noted by Hobart and Rozella Smith, [1] zoological systematists had been using "the term (synonymy) in another sense as well, namely in reference to all occurrences of any name or set of names (usually synonyms) in the literature." Such a "synonymy" could include multiple listings, one for each place the author found a name used, rather than a summarized list of different synonyms. The term "chresonym" was created to distinguish this second sense of the term "synonym." [1] The concept of synonymy is furthermore different in the zoological and botanical codes of nomenclature.

In scientific nomenclature, a synonym is a scientific name that applies to a taxon that (now) goes by a different scientific name, although the term is used somewhat differently in the zoological code of nomenclature. For example, Linnaeus was the first to give a scientific name to the Norway spruce, which he called Pinus abies. This name is no longer in use: it is now a synonym of the current scientific name, Picea abies.

A name that correctly refers to a taxon is further termed an orthochresonym while one that is applied incorrectly for a given taxon may be termed a heterochresonym. [2] [3]

Example (orthochresonymy)

Page 116 in Hershkovitz (1969) showing the chresonym Physeter catodon Harmer 1928 Hershkovitzp116.png
Page 116 in Hershkovitz (1969) showing the chresonym Physeter catodon Harmer 1928

Species names consist of a genus part and a species part to create a binomial name. Species names often also include a reference to the original publication of the name by including the author and sometimes the year of publication of the name. As an example, the sperm whale, Physeter catodon , was first described by Linnaeus in the 10th edition Systema Naturae published in 1758. Thus, the name may also be referenced as Physeter catodon Linnaeus 1758. That name was also used by Harmer in 1928 to refer to the species in the Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of London and of course, it has appeared in numerous other publications since then. Taxonomic catalogues, such as "Catalog of Living Whales" by Philip Hershkovitz, [4] may reference this usage with a Genus+species+authorship convention that may appear to indicate a new species (a homonym) when in fact it is referencing a particular usage of a species name (a chresonym). Hershkovitz, for example refers to Physeter catodon Harmer 1928, which can cause confusion as this name+author combination really refers to the same name that Linnaeus first published in 1758.

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

Binomial nomenclature, also called binominal nomenclature or binary nomenclature, is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name composed of two parts, both of which use Latin grammatical forms, although they can be based on words from other languages. Such a name is called a binomial name, a binomen, binominal name or a scientific name; more informally it is also called a Latin name. The first part of the name – the generic name – identifies the genus to which the species belongs, while the second part – the specific name or specific epithet – identifies the species within the genus. For example, humans belong to the genus Homo and within this genus to the species Homo sapiens. Tyrannosaurus rex is probably the most widely known binomial. The formal introduction of this system of naming species is credited to Carl Linnaeus, effectively beginning with his work Species Plantarum in 1753. But Gaspard Bauhin, in as early as 1622, had introduced in his book Pinax theatri botanici many names of genera that were later adopted by Linnaeus.

Carl Linnaeus Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist

Carl Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné, was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. He is known as the "father of modern taxonomy". Many of his writings were in Latin, and his name is rendered in Latin as Carolus Linnæus.

Example (heterochresonymy)

Nepenthes rafflesiana , a species of pitcher plant, was described by William Jack in 1835. [5] The name Nepenthes rafflesiana as used by Hugh Low in 1848 is a heterochresonym. Cheek and Jebb (2001) [6] explain the situation thus:

<i>Nepenthes rafflesiana</i> species of plant

Nepenthes rafflesiana, or Raffles' pitcher-plant, is a species of tropical pitcher plant. It has a very wide distribution covering Borneo, Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, and Singapore. Nepenthes rafflesiana is extremely variable, with numerous forms and varieties described. In Borneo alone, there are at least three distinct varieties. The giant form of this species produces enormous pitchers rivalling those of N. rajah in size.

William Jack FRSE was a noted Scottish botanist and medical practitioner.

Hugh Low British naturalist

Sir Hugh Low, was a British colonial administrator and naturalist. After a long residence in various colonial roles in Labuan, he became the first successful British administrator in the Malay Peninsula where he made the first trials of Hevea rubber in the region. His methods became models for future administrators. He made the first documented ascent of Mount Kinabalu in 1851. Both Kinabalu's highest peak as well as the deep gully on the northern side of the mountain are named after him.

Low, ... accidentally, or otherwise, had described what we know as N. rafflesiana as Nepenthes × hookeriana and vice versa in his book "Sarawak, its Inhabitants and Productions" (1848). Masters was the first author to note this in the Gardeners' Chronicle [7] ..., where he gives the first full description and illustration of Nepenthes × hookeriana .

<i>Nepenthes × hookeriana</i> species of plant

Nepenthes × hookeriana, or Hooker's Pitcher-Plant, is a common natural hybrid involving N. ampullaria and N. rafflesiana. It was originally described as a species.

The description that Maxwell Tylden Masters provided in 1881 for the taxon that had previously been known to gardeners as Nepenthes hookeriana (an interchangeable form of the name for the hybrid Nepenthes × hookeriana) differs from Low's description. The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants does not require that descriptions from so long ago include specification of a type specimen, and types can be chosen later to fit these old names. Since the descriptions differ, Low's and Masters' name have different types. Masters therefore created a later homonym, which, according to the rules of the code is illegitimate.

See also

Related Research Articles

The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) is a widely accepted convention in zoology that rules the formal scientific naming of organisms treated as animals. It is also informally known as the ICZN Code, for its publisher, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. The rules principally regulate:

The suffix -onym, in English and other languages, means "word, name", and words ending in -onym refer to a specified kind of name or word, most of which are classical compounds. For example, an acronym is a word formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term. The use of -onym words provides a means of classifying, often to a fine degree of resolution, sets of nouns with common attributes.

<i>Charonia</i> genus of molluscs

Charonia is a genus of very large sea snail, commonly known as Triton's trumpet or Triton snail. They are marine gastropod mollusks in the monotypic family Charoniidae.

In zoological nomenclature, author citation refers to listing the person who first makes a scientific name of a taxon available. This is done in a scientific publication while fulfilling the formal requirements under the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, hereinafter termed "the Code". According to the Code, "the name of the author does not form part of the name of a taxon and its citation is optional, although customary and often advisable", however Recommendation 51A suggests: "The original author and date of a name should be cited at least once in each work dealing with the taxon denoted by that name. This is especially important in distinguishing between homonyms and in identifying species-group names which are not in their original combinations". For the purpose of information retrieval, the author citation and year appended to the scientific name, e.g. genus-species-author-year, genus-author-year, family-author-year, etc., is often considered a "de facto" unique identifier, although for a number of reasons discussed below, this usage may often be imperfect.

In botanical nomenclature, author citation refers to citing the person or group of people who validly published a botanical name, i.e. who first published the name while fulfilling the formal requirements as specified by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN). In cases where a species is no longer in its original generic placement, both the author(s) of the original genus placement and those of the new combination are given.

<i>Nepenthes sumatrana</i> species of plant

Nepenthes sumatrana is a tropical pitcher plant endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, after which it is named.

<i>Nepenthes longifolia</i> species of plant

Nepenthes longifolia is a tropical pitcher plant endemic to Sumatra, where it grows at elevations of between 300 and 1100 m above sea level. The specific epithet longifolia, formed from the Latin words longus (long) and folius (leaf), refers to the exceptionally large leaves of this species.

<i>Nepenthes beccariana</i> species of plant

Nepenthes beccariana is a tropical pitcher plant. The species was described in 1908 by John Muirhead Macfarlane based on a specimen collected from the island of Nias, which lies off the western coast of Sumatra. It appears to be closely related to both N. longifolia and N. sumatrana, and the former is possibly a heterotypic synonym of this taxon.

<i>Nepenthes sumagaya</i> species of plant

Nepenthes sumagaya is a tropical pitcher plant native to the Philippines. It is known only from Mount Sumagaya in north-central Mindanao, where it grows in open areas at elevations from 1600 m above sea level to the summit at 2247 m. It is sympatric with N. pantaronensis and possible hybrids between these species have been recorded. Owing to its unusual combination of morphological characters, N. sumagaya has no obvious close relatives in the genus.

Nepenthaceae (2001 monograph) 2001 monograph of family Nepenthaceae

"Nepenthaceae" is a monograph by Martin Cheek and Matthew Jebb on the tropical pitcher plants of Malesia, which encompasses Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Singapore. It was published in 2001 by the National Herbarium of the Netherlands as the fifteenth volume of the Flora Malesiana series. The species descriptions presented in the monograph are based on the authors' field observations in Borneo, New Guinea, and Peninsular Malaysia, as well as the examination of plant material deposited at 20 herbaria.

<i>Pitcher-Plants of Borneo</i> book by Anthea Phillipps

Pitcher-Plants of Borneo is a monograph by Anthea Phillipps and Anthony Lamb on the tropical pitcher plants of Borneo. It was first published in 1996 by Natural History Publications (Borneo), in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Malaysian Nature Society. An updated and much expanded second edition was published in 2008 as Pitcher Plants of Borneo, with Ch'ien Lee as co-author.

Nepenthaceae (1873 monograph) monograph on plant family Nepenthaceae

"Nepenthaceae" is a monograph by Joseph Dalton Hooker on the tropical pitcher plants of the genus Nepenthes. It was published in 1873 in the seventeenth and final volume of Augustin Pyramus de Candolle's Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis, which was edited by Augustin's son, Alphonse. The monograph focused primarily on new discoveries from northern Borneo. Unlike most major works on Nepenthes, it included no illustrations.

Die Gattung <i>Nepenthes</i> article

"Die Gattung Nepenthes: Eine monographische Skizze" is a German-language monograph by Günther Beck von Mannagetta und Lerchenau on the tropical pitcher plants of the genus Nepenthes. It was published in 1895 in four parts, spread over the March, April, May and June issues of Wiener Illustrirte Garten-Zeitung.

<i>Nepenthes hemsleyana</i> species of plant

Nepenthes hemsleyana is a tropical pitcher plant endemic to Borneo, where it grows in peat swamp forest and heath forest below 200 m above sea level.

This is a list of terms and symbols used in scientific names for organisms, and in describing the names. For proper parts of the names themselves, see glossary of scientific names. Note that many of the abbreviations are used with or without a stop.

Polygireulima is a genus of very small parasitic sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks or micromollusks in the Eulimidae family.


  1. 1 2 3 Smith, Hobart M & Rozella B Smith (1972). "Chresonymy ex Synonymy". Systematic Zoology . 21: 445–445. doi:10.2307/2412440. ISSN   0039-7989.
  2. Dubois, A. (2000). Synonymies and related lists in zoology: general proposals, with examples in herpetology. Dumerilia. 4(2): 33–98.
  3. Dubois A (2010) Retroactive changes should be introduced in the Code only with great care: problems related to the spellings of nomina. Zootaxa 2426:1–42
  4. Hershkovitz, Philip (1966). "Catalog of Living Whales". Bulletin of the United States National Museum. 246: 1–259. ISSN   0096-2961.
  5. William Jackson Hooker, ed. (1835). "Description of Malayan plants". Hookers Companion to the Botanical Magazine. 1: 121–157, 219–224, 253–273.
  6. Cheek, M.R. & M.H.P. Jebb (2001). Nepenthaceae. Flora Malesiana. 15. National Herbarium of the Netherlands.
  7. Maxwell Tylden Masters (1881). "New garden plants: Nepenthes hookeriana". The Gardeners' Chronicle: 812–813.