Names used for invertebrates and plants in Plant-SyNZ™ database
A plant or animal can have several names, a scientific name, a common or vernacular name or a Maori name. Where there is no scientific name, they may have an informal "tag" name.
Scientific names are given to plants and animals that have been formally described in scientific literature.
The scientific names used in Plant-SyNZ™ are those in the Landcare Research Bugs (invertebrates) and Flora databases and they provide the links between the three databases. In addition, Plant-SyNZ™ contains scientific names of plants that are not in the Flora database. These are either species that do not occur in New Zealand or are some species of cultivated plants. Plant-SyNZ™ also includes names of insects and mites that are not in the NZBugs database. These include species that are not in New Zealand and names for undescribed taxa.
Synonyms. Sometimes the scientific name of a species changes as a result of new information. The old name is called a synonym. The current valid name for a synonym can be found in the Flora and Bugs databases. The valid scientific name will provide a link to Plant-SyNZ™.
See tag names below for names used for species that have not been formally described.
Sometimes a specimen can only be identified to a genus. In the database it is named as Genus sp., e.g. Pittosporum sp. or Liriomyza sp.
For more information about scientific names see below.
Common or vernacular names
Common or vernacular names are not used in Plant-SyNZ™, because there can be more than one common name for a species or the same common name may refer to more than one species. However, common or vernacular names can be found in the NZFlora database [link to flora] and a direct link enables them to be used with the Plant-SyNZ™ database. [check insect common names list]
Maori names are not used in Plant-SyNZ™, because there can be more than one Maori name for a species or the same Maori name may refer to more than one species. However, Maori names can be found in the Flora database [link to flora] and a direct link enables them to be used with the Plant-SyNZ™ database. [check insect Maori names list]
Some plants and animals that are recognised as belonging to distinct species have not received a formal description. Tag names are used so that information about the species can be referred to in publications and databases. Two forms of tag names are used in Plant-SyNZ™.
Genus known, species undescribed. Where the genus is known, the format is Genus sp. "tag name" (Author year), i.e. for the leaf mining fly reared from Hydrocotyle species, Liriomyza sp. "hydrocotyle" (Spencer 1976) and for the leaf mining fly reared from Melicytus alpine, Liriomyza sp. "Melicytus alpina" of Martin 2000. The first species was first mentioned by Spencer in a 1976 publication, while the second species has not been recorded in a publication.
Genus unknown, species undescribed. Where the genus is unknown and the species undescribed two conventions have been followed.
The first is as follows, Gen. nov. "tag name" sp. "tag name" of author year, e.g. Gen. nov. "Greenthrips" sp. "Hunua" of Martin 2009.
The second convention is used mainly for species of gall forming insects and mites where a longer description of gall type is useful and biologically meaningful. [check with Trevor on this format]. The following examples illustrate the concept.
Coprosma small bud gall sp. areolata of Martin 1999
Coprosma shoot tip gall sp. areolata of Martin 2001
Olearia small leaf blister gall sp. albida of Martin 2005
The scientific name for a species consists of two parts, a generic name and a specific epithet. The generic name always starts with a capital letter while the specific epithet is never capitalised even if it based on the name of a place or person. The scientific name is always italicized or underlined, e.g. Thrips obscuratus or Thrips obscuratus.
The scientific name may be followed by the name of the person(s) who originally described the species. The persons (authors) name is never italicized or underlined. If after the original description, the species is moved to a different genus, the original authors name is enclosed by brackets, e.g. Thrips obscuratus (Crawford). For plants the convention is that when a species is moved to a different genus, the persons name who makes the change is also added, e.g. Ranunculus membranifolius (Kirk) Garnock-Jones. Animal names can also include the year when a species was originally described, e.g. Thrips obscuratus (Crawford, 1941).
In addition to the basic scientific name, there are various additional subdivisions. For example a genus may be divided into two or more subgenera. The subgenus name is inserted between the generic name and the specific epithet. Species themselves can also be subdivided. These subdivisions can include, subspecies (spp.), varieties (var.), forms (f.), and cultivars (cv.).
A species is a human concept for biological entities. Over time ideas about the definition of a species and its relationship to other species may change, hence the movement of species to other genera or if two "species" are later believed to be the same, the joining (synonymising) of the two names. When this happens the oldest name is retained. In order to provide a reference for each species, type specimens are designated. The most important are the holotype which is a single specimen selected and designated at the time of the original description, and the paratypes, which are any specimens from the original series of specimens from which a description was prepared.
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