News & AnalysisZOOLOGY

International Arbiter of Animal Names Faces Financial Woes

Science  22 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6122, pp. 897
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6122.897

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Summary

A rose by any other name might still smell as sweet, but an animal with two scientific monikers can wreak havoc for researchers trying to study it. Since 1895, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) has helped ensure animal names are unique and long-lasting, with a panel of volunteer commissioners who maintain naming rules and resolve conflicts when they arise. But the U.K.-based charitable trust that supports all this is slated to run out of money before the year's end—and that could spell trouble. The ICZN code, which provides guidance for naming new species and resolving conflicts about older ones, is updated periodically, and there is fear that communication barriers would form without systematic name assignment. One proposal suggests establishing a committee that would come up with a new financial model for the troubled organization.