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Keywords:

  • electronic publication;
  • nomenclature;
  • taxonomy;
  • ZooBank

Abstract

Web-based, digital taxonomy is developing rapidly, but the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) still requires that the primary data element of taxonomy, the description, be published in hard copy. If accepted, a recently proposed amendment to the ICZN allows for electronic publication of taxonomic names, with the names to be registered in a global, publicly accessible, web-based archive called ZooBank. This proposal will allow for contemporary models of publication and begin the process of establishing a global register of zoological names. While on the surface this sounds like a reasonably minor step in the pathway to the new taxonomy, the logical implications of this proposal are many and far reaching. For example, this change may lead to further advances so that zoological taxonomy bypasses traditional journal publication entirely, with ZooBank or some other electronic web-based outlet operating as the publishing vehicle and names register for the new taxonomy. While electronic publication is an important step in improving taxonomic practice, it is by no means a panacea for the critical shortage of taxonomic expertise in Australia or elsewhere.