Notulae Algarum: An Online Journal for Algae

Is my new algal species name valid?

Certain conditions must be met to ensure that an algal species name is valid under the International Code for Nomenclature. Here is a list of requirements to help you validate your species name. The requirements are identical for subspecies, varieties and formae. This summary here applies mainly to living algae.

1. Is it effectively published?

A name must appear in a journal or book that has been distributed to libraries and is generally available to the public or in a PDF with an ISBN or ISSN number published online (Art. 29, Art. 30).

A name in a Word file or a similar text file, regardless of how it is distributed, is not valid; it must be a PDF. Accordingly, do not allow Editors relegate new taxa or other nomenclatural acts to "Supplementary files." These things are often more important than much of the materials considered by editors to be "essential".

2. Is it combined with a valid genus name?

A species name or infraspecific name assigned to an invalid genus name is itself invalid (Art. 35.1). Note that a genus name is invalid if it coincides with a technical term used in describing species (Art. 20.2), such as "parvulus" or "lanceolatus"). A combination is not validly published unless the author definitely associates the final epithet with the name of the genus or species (Art. 35.2).

3. Is the species epithet in accordance with the rules?

The species epithet (name) must not repeat the genus name (Art. 23.4), but otherwise can be derived from any source whatsoever (Art. 23.2), but, if adjectival, it should agree in gender with the gender of the genus name. A noun in apposition retains its own gender.

Gender, orthographic and typographic errors do not render a name invalid and are correctable in accordance with Art. 60. Authors should indicate under a heading "Etymology" how the name was derived and clearly state whether a noun (n.) or adjective (adj.) is intended, but this is not a requirement for validity.

If you wish to honour someone use the key here to derive a correctly spelled epithet.

4. Have you provided a description or diagnosis (or both) in English or Latin?

A species name without a description of some kind is invalid (nomen nudum). You can provide a complete description or a diagnosis (Art. 38.2), or both, but one must be in English or Latin (Art. 38.1a and 38.3). A diagnosis is defined by the Code (Art. 38.2), a description is not so defined but is "a published statement of a feature or features of an individual taxon." (see Code Glossary)

5. Have you designated a type?

For a species name (and other names) to be valid, a type must be designated. This is usually a preserved (dried or fixed) specimen in a herbarium (preferably a public herbarium that is actually accessible to phycologists). This can be a single specimen or several specimens from a single gathering (see Art. 8.2, footnote), or, if there are perceived difficulties of preservation (e.g., many microalgae) a preserved sample that may be an admixture (not composed of a single entity), or an illustration. If you do designate an illustration showing several examples, these must be from a single gathering (a single collection made at the same place on the same day) or the name is invalid. A culture, unless preserved in a metabolically inactive state (Art. 40.3, Note 3), in not acceptable as a type. A living culture can be called an "ex-type" or a "representative strain". When the type is said to be culture, a statement must be included that the culture is in a metabolically inactive state (Art. 40.8).

6. Have you used the words "type", "typus", "holotypus" or "holotype"?

The type must be clearly indicated using these words (Art. 40.6). The words "here designated" or "hic designatus" are not necessary for a holotype but theirinclusion does not invalidate the name. These words are only required for the designation of lectotypes, epitypes and neotypes (Art. 7, Note 2).

7. Have you clearly stated the rank?

The indication "sp. nov." is a clear indication of rank. Note that it is an abbreviation for species nova [not "novum"!], new species (Art. 37.1). Incidental mention of the rank is also acceptable but it is better to use "sp. nov."

8. Have you provided an illustration?

For living algae (not fossil algae), a new name is not validly published unless it is accompanied by an illustration or figure showing "the distinctive morphological features", or by a reference to a previously and effectively published such illustration or figure (Art. 44.2).

There is a recommendation (Rec. 44a) that "The illustration or figure required by Art. 44.2 should be prepared from actual specimens, preferably including the holotype."

9. Have you omitted any stated ambiguity?

A name is not validly published when it is not accepted by its author in the original publication (Art. 36). Question marks do not qualify as a lack of acceptance, but Art. 36.1 gives several examples of such ambiguity rendering a name invalid.

10. Will my valid name be legitimate?

While the unintended use of an earlier name (a homonym) does not invalidate a name, it will render it illegitimate and it will have to be replaced (or conserved), which will have to be done in a valid manner!

You can check with a degree of confidence now if a name has been used previously on Index Nominum Algarum and on AlgaeBase.

11. What shall I do if my name was invalidly published?

Publish a "Erratum" or "Corrigendum" (either in the original publication or in another publication) correcting the error or omission (or both). Art. 33.1 specifies "When the various conditions for valid publication are not simultaneously fulfilled, the date is that on which the last is fulfilled. However, the name must always be explicitly accepted in the place of its valid publication. A name published on or after 1 January 1973 for which the various conditions for valid publication are not simultaneously fulfilled is not validly published unless full and direct reference (Art. 41.5) is given to the place(s) where these requirements were previously fulfilled (but see Art. 41.7)."

Example of a validly published species name

Dasya sylviae C.W.Schneider, M.M.Cassidy & G.W.Saunders, sp. nov. (Fig. 2)

Diagnosis: Differing from most species of Dasya by its pronounced pseudodichotomous branching pattern (Fig. 2A–C), and from its most similar congener in habit, D. crouaniana J.Agardh, by its longer pseudolaterals, narrower and shorter tetrasporangial stichidia and axes fully covered with pseudolaterals to barely denuded proximal axes. The new taxon differs from all species of Dasya by its lack of post-sporangial cover cells.

Description: Plants epilithic, erect to 17 cm tall, carmine red, arising from small discoidal holdfasts; indeterminate axes sympodially branched, appearing pseudodichotomously branched throughout, only slightly tapering from base to apex (Fig. 2A–C) ... [truncated].

Type: BERMUDA: Spittal, south of Cooper's I. off Castle Harbour; 31° 19.23333' N, 64° 39.53333' W; depth 63.8 m; on rhodoliths; 11 Aug. 2016; Schneider & Popolizio 16-21-14; holotype (Fig. 2A): MICH [BDA2031]; isotypes (Fig. 2B–C): Bermuda Natural History Museum, MICH, NY, UNB, US, Herb. CWS [BDA2030]. GenBank nos: MW698721 (holotype), MW699769 (isotype).

Etymology: The species is named for Dr Sylvia A. Earle, pioneering phycologist, scientist and open-water diver, 50 years after she led the first all-female team of aquanauts in Tektite II on the floor of the Caribbean Sea (Earle 1972a, 1972b).

[Modified, with permission, from: Schneider, C.W., Cassidy, M.M. & Saunders, G.W. (2021). The pseudodichotomous Dasya sylviae sp. nov. (Delesseriaceae, Ceramiales) from 60-90 m mesophotic reefs off Bermuda. European Journal of Taxonomy 751: 24-37, 2 figs, 2 tables.]