Genus as the species

Barry M. OConnor bmoc at UMICH.EDU
Fri Apr 9 13:01:08 CDT 1999

At 7:00 PM -0300 4/9/1999, Walter Boeger wrote:
>Dear all,
>Hey, I may be worng afterall.  Do everyone agree with Dr. W|ster
Use of only the generic name in scientific writing is equivalent to using
only a family name in journalistic writing, e.g. Clinton gave a major
address (or Mr. Clinton for the NY Times!).  If more than one individual in
the family is being referenced, specific names have to be given, e.g.
Hillary and Chelsea Clinton visited Africa.  In the context of this thread,
if the whole species name is spelled out early on, and there's only one
being referenced, I can see how a non-taxonomist might adopt this common
convention.  However, in scientific writing, the convention has
traditionally been to abbreviate the generic name and use the species name,
rather than just using the generic name.  We may have become slack in the
continuous references to model organisms.  How many times is "E. coli"
referred to at all by its proper generic name?  "C. elegans" tends to be
properly attributed more often.  On the other side, how many times have we
heard "Drosophila" without a specific name?  Folks in our department work
on E. coli, C. elegans, Brachydanio, and Drosophila - evidence for more

So many mites, so little time!
Barry M. OConnor                phone: (734) 763-4354
Museum of Zoology               FAX: (734) 763-4080
University of Michigan          e-mail: bmoc at
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079  USA

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