Authors => Taxonomic articles


Scope of articles

Articles may constitute a comprehensive treatment of a group delimited by taxonomic, geographic, ecological or other biologically meaningful criteria. Articles dealing with miscellaneous species having no such natural association or simply describing a single new species will also be accepted if fulfilling normal taxonomic criteria.


Headings of taxonomic categories above the species group should be centred and preceded by the name of the category (e.g. genus, family). When used as taxonomic headings and with their first citation in the text, all genus and species group names should be cited with their author in unabbreviated form. Nomenclatorial changes should be indicated by the standardised abbreviations gen.n., sp.n., stat.n., comb.n., nom.n. recommended by the ICZN; all other abbreviations should be avoided or, if really necessary, explained in the section 'Material and Methods'. Under each taxon heading at least the most important references to the taxon must be stated, i.e. its original description, revisions, keys synonymies; such references must be included in the bibliography at the end of the article. With genera, the type-species with its author and date must be listed after the synonymy.


Descriptions of taxa should be furnished consistently in telegraphic style (i.e. without active verbs), and should be followed by a section indicating the main diagnostic characters of the taxon and giving a comparison with its closest relatives and other similar taxa. A formal diagnosis should normally not be given in addition to a description, but rather in its place when a full description or re-description is unnecessary. Descriptions of species should be based on the entire type-series, not only on the holotype, and new species should not be described from single specimens without some justification (e.g. stating the steps taken to locate/collect more). Names given to new taxa should be simple and euphonic, and species names based on geographic entities with complicated local names (e.g. townbushensis, skoorsteenkopensis) should be avoided.

All nomenclatorial and taxonomic changes (synonymies, type designations, generic transfers, changes in status, replacement of names, etc.) must be briefly justified, and nomenclatorial ambiguities and interpretations must be fully explained. lf a type cannot be traced, an account should be given of the steps taken to ascertain its whereabouts.

Type designations

Type designations must be done in accordance with the ICZN, and types not recognised by the  ICZN (homotype, metallotype, etc.) are not acceptable. The designation of allotypes should be avoided. Primary types (holotypes, lectotypes, neotypes) must be deposited in recognised public taxonomic institutions (not private collections) and, if at all possible, in the country of origin of the species. 

All specimens examined should be included in a section 'Material examined', citing all specimens and their depositories.

Label data

The data on the specimen labels should be cited verbatim in the case of types but standardised for all other specimens examined, arranging the localities in alphabetical order within countries or provinces. Map co-ordinates are preferred, particularly for obscure localities. The lines of a label associated with a specimen are to be separated by a semi-colon and the items on the line by a comma, as per the following example:

Calvinia District, Northern Cape; 31°39.24′S, 20°53.41′E, 1254 m; 17 December 2011; J.B. Ball (full initials). Note that there are no spaces between the coordinates, that the degree sign ° is used, with the prime sign ′ (not the apostrophe) for minutes. If the label has seconds the double prime sign ″ is used.

International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) (the Code)

Authors submitting taxonomic descriptions are bound by the rules and regulations of the most recent edition of the Code (4th edition), as amended1. Attention of authors is drawn to the recent publication by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) of an amendment to articles 8, 9, 10, 21 and 78 of the Code1, expanding the methods of publication allowed to include electronic publication after 20112.

1 The ICZN, 4th edition states that infrasubspecific names applied to a taxon are invalid and have no standing in terms of the Code. However, some forms and aberrations – curiosities – are of general interest to our readership. Articles utilising such terms may occasionally be published in Metamorphosis; however, this does not imply that Metamorphosis or the editor accept or endorse such descriptions. To the contrary, these names remain invalid, and should not be italicised when in print and when applied to a particular “taxon” of infrasubspecific status.

2 ICZN 2012. Amendment of Articles 8, 9, 10, 21 and 78 of the International code of Zoological Nomenclature to expand and refine methods of publication.  ZooKeys 219: 1-10.


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