(Chrono-) Species description

Species, the fundamental units of taxonomy, have to be described according to the rules outlined in the ICZN-Code. However, the current requirements for species description need to be adjusted to modern demands. This can be achieved by implementing: 


1.) Species diagnoses that are based on differences in nucleic acid sequences, allowing to distinguish new species from their closest relatives; genetic data need to be supplemented by phenotypic data to ensure the integration into existing reference systems. The quest for molecular data should be manifested. 

2.) A provisional status should be accepted for partially characterised species (“candidate species” or “operational taxonomic units”). 


For the time being, I would advise taxonomists against describing new species or making species-level revisions until a universally applicable species-rank delimitation method is agreed upon. 


Ahrens D, Ahyong ST, Ballerio A, Barclay MVL, Eberle J, Espeland M, Huber BA, Mengual X, Pacheco TL, Peters RS, Rulik B, Vas-de-Mello F, Wesener T, and Krell FT (2021), Is it time to describe new species without diagnoses? – A comment on Sharkey et al. (2021), Zootaxa 5027, 151-159. (pdf)


Baker RJ, and Bradley RD (2006), Speciation in mammals and the genetic species concept, J. Mammal. 87, 643-662. (pdf)


Cook LG, Edwards RD, Crisp MD, and Hardy NB (2010), Need morphology always be required for new species descriptions?, Invertebr. Syst. 24, 322-326. (pdf)


ICZN (1999), International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, 4th edition, International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature, London, UK. XXIX + 306 pp. (link) 


Kannan R (2006), New bird descriptions without proper voucher specimens: reflections after the Bugun Liocichla case, J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 104, 12-18. (pdf)


Meier R, Blaimer  BB, Buenaventura E, Hartop E, von Rintelen T, Srivathsan A, and Yeo D (2021), A re-analysis of the data in Sharkey et al.‘s minimalist revision reveals that BINs do not deserve names, but BOLD Systems needs a stronger commitment to open science, Cladistics 38, 264-275. (pdf)

Pante E, Schoelinck C, and Puillandre N (2015), From integrative taxonomy to species description: one step beyond, Syst. Biol. 64, 152-160. (pdf)


Will KW, and Rubinoff D (2004), Myth of the molecule: DNA barcodes for species cannot replace morphology for identification and classification, Cladistics 20, 47-55. (pdf)

Zamani A, Faltynek Fric Z, Gante HF, Hopkins T, Orfinger AB, Scherz MD, Sucháčková Bartonová A, and Dal Pos D (2022), DNA barcodes on their own are not enough to describe a species, Syst. Ent. (pdf)