The Latinized scientific names of plants and animals are the "handles" that allow us to communicate about them, to compile information about them, and to show relationships among them. Scientific binomials are the portals to discovering and assembling the body of biological, geographical, morphological, ecological, and genetic information about organisms. As computer search engines become more robust and a broader range of sources (literature, images, etc.) become available via the internet, the binomial becomes more and more valuable as the key to gathering and compiling information on specific organisms that may function as model systems, indicator species of environmental health, or the source of pharmaceutical products. Without a scientific name, there is no way to link DNA sequence data with the tremendous body of information already documented for any organism or with the huge body of untapped information represented by large numbers of specimens and other artifacts deposited in natural history museums and other collections worldwide.

The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, published in 1961, was the first effort to standardize the rules that govern the naming of animals in an attempt to provide stability in the usage and practice of scientific nomenclature at a global level. Currently in its fourth edition, The Code has continued to evolve to meet the needs of an international audience and a changing biological landscape. The Code is published by the International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature (ITZN external link), the Commission of which reviews proposed changes in animal nomenclature and major changes to the Code. Cases are published in the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature.

The American Association for Zoological Nomenclature (AAZN) was founded in 1983 to facilitate liaison between zoologists in North America and the International Commission for Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN external link) and to provide financial support for the Commission through tax-deductible donations and/or annual membership. There also is a category for institutional membership through which societies and other organizations can provide support. Annual membership in AAZN is $20 (US) for individuals, whereas institutions can pledge various levels of support, starting at $100 (US). All interested zoologists and zoological institutions and/or societies are invited to join AAZN to acknowledge the need and benefit of the work of the AAZN and ICZN.

One of the goals of AAZN is to distribute an informal newsletter once a year to inform members of the activities of AAZN, ICZN, and ITZN. AAZN plays an important role in the distribution of The Code to North American zoologists and is committed to providing information concerning zoological nomenclature to interested parties. It sells The Code, the Official Lists and Indexes of Names and Works in Zoology, and the 1995 Centenary History entitled Towards Stability in the Names of Animals, with a discount to members.
Haeckel's "Tree of Life"


AAZN | American Association for Zoological Nomenclature
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