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Describing a New Species


Alain Dubois

Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris, FR
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Describing new species is a fundamental work for the knowledge of the endangered biodiversity of our planet, a large proportion of which is still unknown to science. To be really useful to all other comparative disciplines of biology, this work must be carried out in a professional manner. This requires following a strict methodology for the taxonomic recognition of species and for their nomenclature. The taxonomic work must be based upon actual specimens, kept in permanent collections, and on phenetic and cladistic analyses and comparisons based on their characters, attributes and relacters. Different "kinds of species" (bisexual panmictic, parthenogenetic, gynogenetic, etc.) must be distinguished and characterized. For the progress of taxonomic knowledge, revisionary works of supraspecific taxa are much more important than mere descriptions of "new species". Descriptions and diagnoses must be carried out in a standardized manner. As for the nomenclatural methodology, taxonomists should strictly follow the rules of the Code, in particular regarding its three-level structure (distinguishing availability, allocation and validity of nomina), the principles of coordination, of nomenclatural foundation, of onomatophores and of priority. No new nomen should be created if an available one exists, possibly "hidden" in a synonymy, for the species recognized by modern work. More attention and care should be paid by taxonomists to the problems related to the etymology, aspect and length of nomina: for a proper communication with all other biologists and nonbiologists, the latter should be short, euphonious, clearly distinct and original.

Key words: Methodology; Taxonomy; Taxa; Specimens; Descriptions; Diagnoses; Nomenclature; Nomina

DOI: 10.4038/tapro.v2i1.2703

TAPROBANICA, April, 2010. Vol. 02, No. 01: pp. 6-24
How to Cite: Dubois, A., 2011. Describing a New Species. TAPROBANICA: The Journal of Asian Biodiversity, 2(1), pp.6–24. DOI:
Published on 19 Jan 2011.
Peer Reviewed


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