International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature


International conventions and national or regional legislation concerning threatened or endangered animals specify the species or subspecies name of the animals that the law intends to protect. Thereafter, protection goes with the name rather than the endangered species itself. Any subsequent change in name could therefore affect conservation measures. The Commission often acts to protect the names of endangered species.

The San Francisco garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia, is one of California's rarest and most beautiful snakes, found in a restricted area of the San Francisco Peninsular. This subspecies has a burnt orange head, pale yellow-turquoise dorsal stripes edged in black, bordered by a red stripe and then a black stripe and has a belly washed with delicate turquoise colour. It has been officially designated as "Endangered" on U.S. State lists since 1966, and was on the first U.S. Federal Endangered Species List established in 1973. Changes to the subspecific name had been suggested but the Commission acted to suppress these proposed changes and so conserve the usage of this snake's name in accordance with the US Endangered Species Act. [2000]

The Japanese dormouse is entered on the Red List under the name Glirulus japonicus. This species is found on the Japanese islands of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, inhabiting mountain forests. It is nocturnal, and hibernates. It has become threatened due to the loss of its forest habitat. The Commission placed Glirulus on the Official List and ruled that japonicus not javanicus should be considered to be the correct original spelling thus ensuring that there is no confusion since Myoxus japonicus is the designated type species of Glirulus. [2001]

aphanius iberus

The genus Aphanius relates to a group of Palaearctic fresh and brackish water tooth carps (family Cyprinodontidae) and includes at least 17 extant species and also fossil remains that have been reported from Miocene deposits. Several of the species from this genus have very restricted distributions in arid zones with populations and species now seriously threatened by depletion of water resources, pollution and introductions. The following species within this genus are on the Red List: A. anatoliaeA. burduricusA. fasciatusA. iberusA. splendensA. surveyanus and A. transgrediens. The Commission voted to suppress the long disused but recently resurrected name Lebias, and to conserve the generic name Aphanius and placed it on the Official List. [2003]

varanus gouldii

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Gould's goanna (Varanus gouldii) and the Argus or yellow-spotted monitor (Varanus panoptes) are both species listed in CITES publications and on the World Checklist of Threatened Amphibians and Reptiles, with Varanus panoptes being the subject of at least one legal case in Australia. The Commission approved naming procedures that allowed the names of these species to be used in ways consistent with usage in existing lists of protected animals thus preventing the lists from having to be revised. [2000]