International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature

Erna Aescht


Area of Taxonomic Interest: Protozoa

Country: Austria

Elected: December 2015, see BZN 73 (1): 2.

Erna Aescht is responsible for invertebrates (except insects) and as a trained protistologist (ciliates and testate amoebae) in an “all-purpose” museum. Faced with interdisciplinary exhibitions, e.g. on evolution, she learned that most people effectively resist (bio)diversity exemplified by (though a very restricted range of) scientific names and often totally neglect how knowledge is generated. Investigations of the delight and burden of naming ciliates, a catalogue of ciliate generic names worldwide established between 1758 and 2000 and a review of the practice of typification in protistology led her to the conclusion that malpractices of amateurs and scientists have been due to a confusion between nomenclature and taxonomy and diverging interpretations of ambiguous nomenclatural rules.

Summary of Research & Education:

Erna Aescht received her PhD in 1985 from the Department of Zoology at the University of Salzburg. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Berlin (1985-86), she worked on ciliates of sewage treatment plants and soils at the Zoological Institute in Salzburg (1987-1991). Since 1992 she is curator and head of the invertebrate collection (insects excluded) and in addition responsible for the exchange of publications of the 5 journals published by the Biology Centre of the Upper Austrian Museum. Aescht authored over a hundredfourty scientific, technical, and popular articles on cilates, testaceans and diverse invertebrate groups (e.g. the arachnids and molluscs). Vice-president of NOBIS (Network of Biological Systematics) Austria (2007-2010). In the past or actually, editor or member of the editorial/advisory boards of Acta ProtozoologicaBeiträge zur Naturkunde Oberösterreichs, Bionomina, Denisia, Dumerilia, European Journal of ProtistologyInternational Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, Journal of Eukaryotic MicrobiologyLinzer biologische Beiträge. She contributes valid ciliate taxa names to “Species 2000” (Catalogue of Life) and is part of the “International Research Coordination Network for Biodiversity of Ciliates (IRCN–BC)”.

Contact Details:

Dr. Erna Aescht
Head of the invertebrate collection
Biology Centre of the Upper Austrian Museum
J.-W.-Klein-Str. 73
A-4040 Linz, Austria

Telephone: 0043-732-7720-52102
E-mail: e.aescht (at)