Stuart G. Poss sgposs at WHALE.ST.USM.EDU
Wed Aug 2 09:35:12 CDT 1995

On 1 Aug 1995 at 00:05:29 -0700 Peter Rauch asked:

Is there an international registry of, and a mechanism for registering and
arbitrating unique codens/acronyms/prefixes?

In Ichthyology there is no International Registry.  However, members of
the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists some years ago
developed an extensive list of Institutional Symbolic Codes that have been
generally accepted by the international ichthyological and herpetological
communities for institutions housing lower vertebrate materials.  The list
also includes a number of officially rejected codes and can be used to
track the fate of smaller collections that have either been transferred
among one or several collections or that are no longer in operation.

The ASIH Collections Committee maintains the official version of the list
and makes additions and corrections as a formal part of its activity.
Institutions themselves largely decide what Standard Code they prefer to
use and can petition the ASIH Collections Committee for inclusion in the
list.  This is necessary accomodate new collections and institutional
name changes.  We try to oblige whenever possible, but rely primarily on
precedence, as well as it can be determined, to prevent the use of
identical codes.  Workers publishing in Copeia the Society's Official
Journal must conform to this list.

This original list was published as:

Leviton, A. E., R. H. Gibbs, Jr., E. Heal, and C. E. Dawson.  1985.
Standards in herpetology and ichthyology: Part I.  Standard symbolic
codes for institutional resource collections in herpetology and
ichthyology.  Copeia 1985:802-832.

Last year a copy of the list was transferred from GCRL where it is
maintained to the Cornell Biodiversity/Collections Server to facilitate
access and use by the larger museums and systematics community.  This copy
can be accessed via:

An updated official version of the list will soon be made available
through the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Home
Page (  The updated list will
include access to data on North American ichthyological collections
recently published in: Poss, S. G. and B. B. Collette.  1995.  Second
Survey of Fish Collections in the United States and Canada.  Copeia
1995(1):48-70.  It will also provide Web-mediated mechanisms for
institutions to update information on their holdings so that future
collections surveys can be conducted on-line as recommended in the survey.

It is a goal of the ASIH Collections Committee to develop information and
links to all world collections currently listed as holding lower
vertebrate materials.  Should other disciplines choose to use the ASIH
list or develop their own list, conflict may arise between departments
within a given institution as to what they would prefer to be called.  The
choice of code is primarily up to the institution, so long as their
preferred code is not presently being used ("preoccupied") by another
institution already listed.  The ASIH Collections Committee is prepared to
work with other organizations toward standardization of a wide range of
collections-related information and procedures.  Although ichthyological
and herpetological collections differ in that the former do not usually
provide unique catalog numbers to individual specimens as is typically
done for the latter, we would welcome input from colleagues in other
disciplines and other societies so that the "guarantee" Dr. Rauch seeks
can soon be universally acheived.

For further information please contact:

Stuart G. Poss
Chair, ASIH Data Standards Subcommittee
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory
P.O. Box 7000
Ocean Springs, MS  39564

Ph: (601)872-4238
Fax: (601)872-4204
Email: sgposs at

Stuart G. Poss                       E-mail: sgposs at
Senior Ichthyologist & Curator       Tel: (601)872-4238
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory       FAX: (601)872-4204
P.O. Box 7000
Ocean Springs, MS  39566-7000

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