Preface to the Fourth Edition

By the time the third edition of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature was published, in February 1985, the need for an eventual fourth edition was already becoming apparent. To the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, and especially to the members of the Editorial Committee who drafted the third edition, it had for some time been clear that it would not be possible to deal with several problems and that solutions to them could only be incorporated in a future edition. Comments had been, and continued to be, received from the zoological community worldwide, partly derived from experience in the application of the Code, partly stimulated by the steady progress in the whole field of biological systematics, but also prompted by the development of information technologies. The project of formulating a fourth edition was formally launched by the Commission at its meeting in Canberra in October 1988, held in conjunction with the XXIII General Assembly of the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS). It was anticipated that the new edition of the Code would incorporate some major changes from the previous editions, although, like them, it obviously would have to be compatible with the actions taken by zoologists in times past. More than ten years of discussion and consultation were to follow; they and their outcome are recounted in more detail in the Introduction by W.D.L. Ride which follows this Preface.

An Editorial Committee for the new edition was appointed in Canberra with as its original members H. G. Cogger (Australia), C. Dupuis (France), R.V. Melville (U.K.), W.D.L. Ride (Australia), F. C. Thompson (U.S.A.; Chairman) and P.K. Tubbs (U.K.). In July 1989 O. Kraus (Germany) succeeded W.D.L. Ride in the Presidency of the Commission and joined the Editorial Committee ex officio. In 1990 Thompson resigned as the Chairman, although remaining as a member; he was succeeded by Ride, who thus resumed the role he had held in the preparation of the third edition.

The prospective edition of the Code was discussed at an open session during the Fourth International Congress of Systematic and Evolutionary Biology (lCSEB) at the University of Maryland in July 1990, and by the Commission meeting there. In August 1991 the Editorial Committee was invited by Prof L.B. Holthuis to Leiden and met for several days at the Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, and in the following month the Code was discussed at the IUBS General Assembly in Amsterdam by both the Commission and the IUBS Section on Zoological Nomenclature. The Commission continued its consideration of the Code in Leiden, the first time it had assembled in that city since it was established there 96 years earlier for precisely the same purpose.

A pivotal stage in the preparation of the fourth edition was a meeting of the Editorial Committee held near Hamburg for several days in October 1993. After further revision, the resulting Discussion Draft was issued to the zoological community at large in May 1995. Some 700 copies of that Draft were distributed by the Secretariat in at least 43 countries; many others were circulated by the American Association for Zoological Nomenclature, and a discussion forum on the new Code was opened on the Internet. The new concepts and provisions embodied in the Draft were also presented by O. Kraus and D. Ride in the June 1995 issue of the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, together with an appeal for comments and suggestions. In November 1995 A. Minelli (ltaly) succeeded O. Kraus as the President of the Commission and joined the Editorial Committee ex officio. The number of zoologists and others from all over the world who contributed comments on the Discussion Draft reflected today's global dimension of human "networking". More than 800 pages of documents from some 500 people or groups were received within 12 months from the first public circulation of the draft, either by post or by electronic mail. A number of these were published in the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature (September 1995 to June 1996), and this elicited further discussion.

All the documents received were classified and annotated in preparation for a week-long meeting of the Editorial Committee held in Vicenza (ltaly) in June 1996. Careful evaluation of this very extensive collection caused the Committee to redraft many provisions; some of the proposals in the Discussion Draft (such as the mandatory "registration" of all new names and the abandonment of gender agreement between generic and specific names) were abandoned, because of practical difficulties and/or because they were not acceptable to a sufficiently wide consensus of zoologists. The Committee's conclusions, together with changes to the Commission's Constitution which had been put forward by its Council, were discussed in detail by members of the Commission assembled on the occasion of the Fifth ICSEB Congress (Budapest, August 1996), and their agreement on all major points was endorsed by a meeting of the IUBS Section on Zoological Nomenclature, as recorded in the December 1996 issue of the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature. The main features of the new Code were outlined by Minelli at a widely attended event, the XX International Congress of Entomology held in Florence in August 1996, and subsequently were publicized on the "World Wide Web".

In 1997 the major changes in the Code and Constitution were accepted in an "indicative" postal ballot of the whole Commission. The Editorial Committee (which had been joined by I.M. Kerzhner (Russia) in August 1996, although he resigned in February 1998 after making numerous extremely valuable contributions) proceeded with the task of polishing and checking the text; considerable and unexpected delay was caused by some serious health problems, but these happily proved temporary. Useful work was done at two- or three-people meetings in Padova, London and Canberra.

In the meantime, P. Bouchet, J. Le Renard and R. Roy, helped by C. Dupuis (all of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris) started working on the French text of the Code. This proved of major importance for the final development of the English text also: inconsistencies or logical ambiguities detected during translation were taken into account by the Editorial Committee.

With only improvements in final wording awaiting completion, in October 1998 the Code (which consists of both the provisions and the Glossary) was circulated to the Commission for the definitive three-month vote to adopt it as the fourth edition; the same was done for the revised Constitution. The Commission voted by a very large majority (24 votes in favour, with two against) to adopt the new Code; in the case of the Constitution the vote was unanimous. At the same time the Code and Constitution were made available to the Executive Committee of IUBS, and this has ratified them on behalf of the Union's General Assembly.

This Fourth Edition of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature takes effect from 1 January 2000, and so leads zoological nomenclature into the third millennium; more modestly, and less roundly, it marks the 242nd anniversary of the formal starting point of the subject, the publication of the 10th edition of Linnaeus's Systema Naturae. The new edition of course builds on the predecessor which it supersedes, the third (1985) edition, which in turn was largely modelled on that of 1961. The preparation of this edition (like that, it has to be said, of the earlier ones) has taken far longer than planned or envisaged by any of those involved. However, we have the satisfaction of knowing that (thanks primarily to electronic mail) it is the result of wider and more intensive consultations than were ever possible before. This Code is more than a mere revision: as recounted by David Ride in the Introduction which follows, the new provisions permit an individual zoologist to take a number of actions to maintain the existing usage of names in circumstances which have until now required reference to the Commission, and we believe this will be widely (though not universally) welcomed. Conversely, in some ways the rules are now less permissive: there are additional criteria which must be met before a new name can become available.

We can anticipate that zoologists and other users of scientific names will before long require still further changes in the Code, perhaps especially concerning procedures for the listing of existing names and the registration of new ones. With regard to the former, extensive databases are now appearing in quick succession and are being consolidated by such enterprises as Species 2000, and this fourth edition of the Code has already taken a significant step through the provisions for the development and adoption of List(s) of Available Names in Zoology. So far as registration of new names is concerned, this has already been introduced in bacteriology, and botanists and zoologists may come to accept it despite understandable doubts and objections. In these areas at least, the future of biological nomenclature will probably witness convergence between the various traditions which diverged during the 19th century.

The conventional Linnaean hierarchy will not be able to survive alone: it will have to coexist with the ideas and terminology of phylogenetic (cladistic) systematics. From a cladistic perspective, our traditional nomenclature is often perceived as too prescriptive and too permissive at the same time. Too prescriptive, in so far as it forces all taxa (and their names) to fit into the arbitrary ranks of the hierarchy; too permissive, in so far as it may be equally applied to paraphyletic as to monophyletic groups. New proposals are therefore to be expected. But even in the perspective of new developments, we believe that it will never be possible or desirable to dispose of 250 years of Linnaean zoological (and botanical) taxonomy and nomenclature. One should always keep in mind that an important function of classifications is information retrieval. The Linnaean tradition will be supplemented, but not replaced, by new semantic and lexical tools.

In closing the Preface, we wish to express gratitude to the many who have contributed to the preparation of this Code; we do this on behalf of not only ourselves and the Commission but also on behalf of the entire zoological community, and indeed of the many other users of the scientific names of animal taxa.

Those we thank include, but are not confined to, the following: David Ride and the other members of the Editorial Committee over the years, retired and present members of the Commission (many of whom gave notable help at meetings and by correspondence), Philippe Bouchet, Jacques Le Renard and Roger Roy, the late Richard Melville and Curtis Sabrosky, those who hospitably made possible editorial meetings in Canberra, Hamburg, Leiden and Vicenza, the Officers of IUBS, and the staff of the Commission Secretariat and of Biosis U.K. (publishers of Zoological Record). We thank Robert Barnes, Senior Lecturer in Classics at the Australian National University, for advice on Latin and Greek gender. We and the Commission express special gratitude to the several hundred people from all over the world who made comments and suggestions, whether at meetings or by letter or e-mail; without their interest and contributions the Code could not possibly reflect the needs and views of present-day zoologists to the extent which we hope it does.

Lastly, we thank the Société Française de Systématique and the American Association for Zoological Nomenclature for their valuable financial support for the printing of this edition; in the context of the latter's assistance we mention once more the late Curtis Sabrosky, whose final contribution to the Code was the generous bequest to the Association which made possible their help.

The Preface of the 3rd edition concluded: "No Code is perfect. None will please everyone. Indeed, it is unlikely that any Code would be completely satisfactory to any individual". Those words will always remain true, but now, as was then done by our predecessors, we commend the new Code to zoologists.

ALESSANDRO MINELLI, President (1995- )
OTTO KRAUS, President (1989-95)
The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature