International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature

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International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature
Formation18 September 1895;124 years ago (1895-09-18)
Type International non-governmental organization
Region served
Official language
English, French
Website Official ICZN website

The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) is an organization dedicated to "achieving stability and sense in the scientific naming of animals". Founded in 1895, it currently comprises 27 members from 19 countries, [1] mainly practicing zoological taxonomists. [2]



The ICZN is governed by the "Constitution of the ICZN", which is usually published together with the ICZN Code. [3]

Members are elected by the Section of Zoological Nomenclature, [4] established by the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS).

The regular term of service of a member of the Commission is 6 years. Members can be re-elected up to a total of three full six-year terms in a row. After 18 continuous years of elected service, a break of at least 3 years is prescribed before the member can stand again for election. [5]


Since 2014, the work of the Commission is supported by a small secretariat based at the National University of Singapore, in Singapore. Previously, the secretariat was based in London and funded by the International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature. [6] The Commission assists the zoological community "through generation and dissemination of information on the correct use of the scientific names of animals". [2]

The ICZN publishes the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (usually referred to as "the Code" or "the ICZN Code"), a widely accepted convention containing the rules for the formal scientific naming of all organisms that are treated as animals. New editions of the Code are elaborated by the Editorial Committee appointed by the Commission. [7] The 4th edition of the Code (1999) was edited by seven people. [8]

The Commission also provides rulings on individual problems brought to its attention, as arbitration may be necessary in contentious cases, where strict adherence to the Code would interfere with stability of usage (e.g., see conserved name). These rulings are published in the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature. [2] Starting in 2017, the Bulletin became an online-only journal and joined BioOne, which hosts volumes 65 (2008) onwards of the Bulletin. [9]

See also

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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 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:

Subspecies Taxonomic rank subordinate to species

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

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Holotype The example of an organism used to describe its species

A holotype is a single physical example of an organism, known to have been used when the species was formally described. It is either the single such physical example or one of several such, but explicitly designated as the holotype. Under the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), a holotype is one of several kinds of name-bearing types. In the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) and ICZN the definitions of types are similar in intent but not identical in terminology or underlying concept.

The International Code of Phylogenetic Nomenclature, known as the PhyloCode for short, is a developing draft for a formal set of rules governing phylogenetic nomenclature. Its current version is specifically designed to regulate the naming of clades, leaving the governance of species names up to the rank-based Nomenclature codes.

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In zoological nomenclature, a nomen dubium is a scientific name that is of unknown or doubtful application.

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ZooBank open access website, official ICZN taxonomic registry

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  1. "About the ICZN - International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature".
  2. 1 2 3 "About the ICZN - International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature".
  3. "International Code of Zoological Nomenclature".
  4. ICZN Code Art. 77.3.1, ICZN Constitution Art. 3.1.1., 4.4.1, 4.5, 11.1.2, 16.1.3
  5. ICZN Constitution Art. 3.1, 3.2
  6. "International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature". ICZN. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  7. ICZN Constitution Art. 16.2
  8. W. D. L. Ride, H. G. Cogger, C. Dupuis, O. Kraus, A. Minelli, F. C. Thompson, P. K. Tubbs, as given in the ICZN Code 4th edition (printed version) p. IV.
  9. "Title additions & departures". BioOne. Retrieved 31 August 2016.