Basionym in Zoology?

B.J.Tindall bti at DSMZ.DE
Mon Jun 17 08:37:08 CDT 2002

Since you asked about bacteriology. The Bacteriological Code uses the term
basonym (note the different spelling) in a similar fashion to botany.
Bacteriology has registration which means that a name should only go into
circulation after "valid publication" of the name. However, the full
description of the taxon may appear separately in an "effective publication".

At 06:53 16.6.2002 -1000, Richard Pyle wrote:
>I'm looking for a simple term to represent something along the lines of:
>"A Taxon Concept as it was represented in the original IC_N-compliant
>description of its corresponding taxon name."
>I don't think the perfect term exists, so I'm looking for something that
>comes pretty close.  Probably the closest and most descriptive term would be
>"Original Description", but I'd prefer something shorter and simpler, such
>as (perhaps) "Basionym".
>I see two problems with using this term for my application, one trivial, and
>one that may or may not be trivial, depending on how people respond to this
>The trivial problem is that "basionym", as I understand it, applies
>specifically to the *name* as it was originally described, without
>necessarily applying to the *concept* as it was originally proposed.  I
>regard this as trivial for my application (even though I readily acknowledge
>that the distinction between a taxon name and a taxon concept is anything
>BUT trivial), in the sense that it wouldn't stop me from using it for my
>purposes on this basis only.
>However, the second "problem" with the term 'basionym' is that it seems to
>be used exclusively within the context of botanical nomenclature -- and this
>is the reason I'm posting this note.
>My specific questions to members of this list are:
>1) Is this term somehow *restricted* to botanical use, or would the term
>carry over to represent its corrsponding concept in zoological and microbial
>nomenclature as well? (I don't have a copy of the ICBN Code, but I gather
>the term is referenced in that Code, whereas I don't believe it is
>referenced in the ICZN Code.)
>2) Would there be another term (besides "Original Description") that I might
>consider for this purpose?
>For some further explanation of context:
>I'm finalizing the structure of the nomenclatural component of my personal
>taxonomy research database.  The core table in this structure is what I
>refer to as "Assertion", which is the intersection of a "Reference" and a
>"Taxon Name".  Each record in the this table is essentially equivalent to
>"TaxonName sensu Author(s)", or more generally a "Taxon Concept" (or
>"potential" taxon concept).  A subset of these Assertions happen to
>represent original descriptions of the taxon names.  I'm looking for a word
>that represents this particular subset of Assertions.  I'm willing to use
>"Original Description"; but I would rather use "Basionym", as long as that
>term has (or could conceivably have) corresponding meaning for Zoological
>(and microbial) taxa & names.
>Thanks in advance for any feedback!
>Richard L. Pyle
>Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
>1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
>Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
>email: deepreef at
>"The opinions expressed are those of the sender, and not necessarily those
>of Bishop Museum."

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