H 1332  Biological Names


BACKGROUND:  Formerly, headings for names of animals and plants at particular taxonomic levels were established only when a work about an organism at that specific level was cataloged.  In the early 1970s, the practice was adopted of always making the BT reference from a heading at the next higher level along the hierarchy of species-genus-family-order-class-phylum even if it meant establishing a heading for which no work had been cataloged.  Intermediate levels such as superfamilies or suborders are no longer established, or retained from the old system, unless the intermediate grouping is considered particularly helpful or warranted by common usage, for example, butterflies or trout.  Intermediate group names are used as additional BT references but do not replace the standard genus-family-order-class-phylum reference structure.

This instruction sheet provides guidelines for establishing names of animals and plants, including domestic animal breeds, cultivated plant varieties, and fossils.


1.  Level of name.  Establish names of animals and plants at the following taxonomic levels only:  species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, or division.  Do not establish other levels, such as suborders or superfamilies except in the case of popular names for intermediate groups, such as butterflies or trout, or common names for well-known subspecies.


2.  Form of name.


a.  Latin or common name.  Prefer the common name if it is in popular use and unambiguous, using as reference sources Web. 3, other general dictionaries or encyclopedias, recent textbooks, popular field guides, and lists of official common names issued by societies or government agencies.  Prefer the common name for animals and plants of economic importance, such as pests or cultivated plants.  Prefer Latin when the common name represents several levels (species, genus, family) or the term is not in general lay usage.  In general, for organisms occurring only in foreign countries, prefer the Latin name unless an English common name is found in standard reference sources.  However, a local common name may be used if it does not conflict with a common name from the United States.  Do not begin a heading for the name of a plant or animal with the word common, unless the name appears in that form in Web. 3 or some other authoritative source.


b.  Singular or plural form of common name.  Establish species in the singular form.  Establish all higher levels in the plural form.  Many older headings do not conform to this policy and may be revised as workload permits. For use of animal names in headings of the type [type of animal] as [ . . . ], see H 360, sec. 5.

Exception:  Headings for domestic animals that humans raise as livestock or keep as pets and cultivated plants are often established in the plural even if they represent the species level, for example, Cats; Dogs; Sweet potatoes.  Domestic animal breeds and cultivated plant varieties are established in the singular.  See sec. 8 below.


c.  Parenthetical qualifiers of names.  Add a parenthetical qualifier when necessary to distinguish two or more meanings of the same term.  Use the singular form to qualify species and the plural for higher taxonomic levels. 




Divers (Birds)


Divers  [the people]


Cranes (Birds)


Cranes, derricks, etc.


Redhead (Bird)


Redheads  [the people]


Docks (Plants)


Docks  [for boats]


If it is necessary to distinguish taxonomic levels, add a parenthetical qualifier for the level, for example, Rhinoceros (Genus) (to distinguish the genus from Rhinoceroses, the common name for the family level).


(1) Animals.  Choose as the qualifier the appropriate term from the list below:


Invertebrates (Phyla)
































Arthropoda (Classes)* 





Vertebrates (Classes)







* Organisms of the Arthropod phylum are qualified by the term Arthropoda, except for arachnids, crustaceans, and insects, which are qualified at the class level.



(2)  Plants.  Choose as the qualifier the appropriate term from the list below:










If none of these terms is appropriate, use the term Plants as the qualifier.


3.  Authorities for names.  Preference is given to:


(1)   The authorities followed by the Smithsonian Institution's taxonomists.


(2)   Work cataloged, when published by a renowned research institute.  Use caution with foreign classifications that may conflict with American practice.


(3)   Taxonomic lists issued by American societies or government agencies, such as the American Entomological Society, United States Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, etc.


(4)   General thesauri and classifications such as the McGraw-Hill Synopsis, FAO lists, Wilson's Biological & Agricultural Index.


(5)   Web. 3 and other general reference books, textbooks, and field guides.


4.  References.


a.  UF references.  Add 450 fields with Latin and English variants.


Also add 450 fields with inverted forms when it would be helpful to provide entry from embedded terms.  However, do not add 450 fields from inverted forms in instances where a 550 (broader term) field is present that begins with the same word as the UF or where the heading is in a hierarchy leading up to the same word(s) (cf. H 373 sec. 2).


Do not add 450 fields beginning with the word common unless that form is found in authoritative reference sources.


b.  Broader term references.  Add 550 (broader term) fields from the next broader level in the hierarchy of genus, family, order, class, phylum, or division.


Even if the species and genus are both established in the Latin form and both begin with the same word, add the heading for the genus as a 550 (broader term) field in the record for the heading for the species.


Whenever necessary, establish the name of the next broader level in order to make the broader term reference.


Make an additional broader term reference for any intermediate group common name, such as butterflies or trout, if it exists.  For example, a moth family name would have both BT Lepidoptera and BT Moths. Do not establish common name groups solely to make references.


5.  Geographic subdivision of names.  Authorize geographic subdivision for headings for animals and plants in Latin or common names at any taxonomic level following the procedures in H 200 sec. 1.


6.  Classification numbers.  Provide classification numbers in 053 field of records for animal and plant headings following the procedures in H 200 sec. 4, as specifically as the QL (Zoology) and QK (Botany) schedules allow, which is usually at the family level.  Also provide classification numbers from the SB (Plant culture), SD (Forestry), and SF (Animal culture) schedules for crops, pests, domestic animals, and pets when specific numbers exist in those schedules. Because it is possible for works about many animals and plants to class in either Q or S, depending on context, generally supply qualifiers for the classification numbers.  Use (Zoology) or (Protozoology) for QL and (Botany), (Algology), or (Mycology) for QK.


7.  Nonprint (OMIT) headings.  Formerly, Latin names below the order level were omitted from printing in Library of Congress Subject Headings.  All Latin names are now established in the subject authority file. Some headings that were not printed when they were first established were later printed because they were generated by their use as a BT for another heading.  These computer-generated headings lack appropriate reference structure and classification numbers and should be revised as necessary when they are encountered.


8.  Animal and plant culture.


a.  Form of name.  Establish names of domestic animal breeds and cultivated plant varieties in English, if possible.  Establish such names in the singular unless they are group names for several breeds or varieties, such as Hounds or Melons.


b.  Authorities for names.  Seek authority for the name in the lists of breeds or varieties published by societies or government agencies such as the American Kennel Association or the United States Department of Agriculture, or in other standard reference sources.


c.  References.  Make UF references from synonymous names and broader term references from group names.


d.  Geographic subdivision of names.  Authorize domestic animal breeds and cultivated plant varieties for geographic subdivision, for example, Hereford cattle–Texas; Broccoli–California.


9.  Animals with proper names.  Establish headings for proper names of individual animals that have become publicly known, such as pets of famous people, animal performers, zoo animals, etc.  Qualify such names in parentheses by the type of animal and make a BT from the generic heading for the type of animal.  Do not bring out by means of BT references particular aspects of the animal, such as breed or special use.  Do not divide headings for individual named animals by place. 




150 ## $a Dan Patch (Race horse)

550 ## $w g $a Horses


150 ## $a Miss Baker (Monkey)

550 ## $w g $a Monkeys


150 ## $a Flipper (Dolphin)

550 ## $w g $a Dolphins


150 ## $a Morris (Cat)

550 ## $w g $a Cats


150 ## $a Gargantua (Gorilla)

550 ## $w g $a Gorillas


150 ## $a Namu (Whale)

550 ## $w g $a Whales


150 ## $a Henry (Horse)

550 ## $w g $a Horses


150 ## $a Old Abe (Eagle)

550 ## $w g $a Eagles


For guidelines on assigning headings to biographies of individual animals and anecdotal works about pets, see H 1720, sec. 3.


10.  Fossil names.  Follow the same guidelines given in sec. 1-7 for names of living organisms to establish headings for names of fossil animals and plants.


a.  Form of name.  For animals and plants existing in both Recent and earlier geologic time periods, base the fossil headings on the established headings for the living animals and plants in Latin or common forms.  Add the qualifier , Fossil, for example, Silicoflagellates, Fossil; Rhinoceroses, Fossil.  If headings for the living groups are not yet established, establish them at the same time as the fossil headings.

For fossils that existed only in earlier geologic time periods and did not survive into the Recent Epoch, such as Dinosaurs, establish them without the qualifier , Fossil.  Base the heading on names found in predominant use in standard paleontology reference sources and texts, such as Fossil Record 2; Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology; Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution; Dinosaur Encyclopedia; Mammalian Paleofaunas of the World ; Index of Generic Names of Fossil Plants; Biology and Evolution of Fossil Plants.


b.  References.  Make no UF references beginning with the word Fossil.  Make BT  references from the next broader level in the hierarchy of genus, family, order, class,  phylum, or division.  Whenever necessary, establish the next broader level in order to make the BT reference.


c.  Classification numbers.  Provide classification numbers from the QE (Geology; Paleontology) schedule in 053 fields, as specifically as that schedule allows.


11.  Subdivisions.  For free-floating subdivisions used under animals, see H 1147.  For free-floating subdivisions used under plants and crops, see H 1180.



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