Improving nomenclatural consistency: a decade of experience in the World Register of Marine Species

  • Tammy Horton National Oceanography Centre, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH
  • Serge Gofas Departamento de Biología Animal, University of Málaga, Faculty of Sciences, Campus de Teatinos, 29071 Málaga
  • Andreas Kroh Natural History Museum Vienna, Department of Geology and Palaeontology, Burgring 7, 1010 Vienna
  • Gary C.B. Poore Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne, Vic. 3001
  • Geoffrey Read National Institute of Water & Atmosphere (NIWA), 301 Evans Bay Parade, Greta Point, Wellington
  • Gary Rosenberg Academy of Natural Sciences, Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1195
  • Sabine Stöhr Swedish Museum of Natural History, Dept. of Zoology, Box 50007, SE-10405 Stockholm
  • Nicolas Bailly FishBase Information and Research Group (FIN), c/o IRRI, Khush Hall, Los Baños, Laguna 4031
  • Nicole Boury-Esnault Institut méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Écologie marine et continentale, UMR 7263 CNRS, IRD, Aix-Marseille University, Station Marine d’Endoume, rue Batterie des Lions, Marseille 13007
  • Simone N. Brandão Programa de Pós-Graduação em Sistemática e Evolução, Laboratório de Geologia e Geofísica Marinha e Monitoramento Ambiental, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte​, Campus Universitário Lagoa Nova, CEP 59072-970 – Natal, RN
  • Mark J. Costello Institute of Marine Science, University of Auckland, P. Bag 92019, Auckland 1142
  • Wim Decock Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) – InnovOcean Site – Wandelaarkaai 7, 8400, Oostende
  • Stefanie Dekeyzer Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) – InnovOcean Site – Wandelaarkaai 7, 8400, Oostende
  • Francisco Hernandez Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) – InnovOcean Site – Wandelaarkaai 7, 8400, Oostende
  • Jan Mees Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) – InnovOcean Site – Wandelaarkaai 7, 8400, Oostende
  • Gustav Paulay Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, Florida, 32611-2710
  • Leen Vandepitte Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) – InnovOcean Site – Wandelaarkaai 7, 8400, Oostende
  • Bart Vanhoorne Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) – InnovOcean Site – Wandelaarkaai 7, 8400, Oostende
  • Sofie Vranken Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) – InnovOcean Site – Wandelaarkaai 7, 8400, Oostende
Keywords: World Register of Marine Species, WoRMS, taxonomic databases, taxonomy, nomenclature


The World Register of Marine species (WoRMS) has been established for a decade. The early history of the database involved compilation of existing global and regional species registers. This aggregation, combined with changes to data types and the changing needs of WoRMS users, has resulted in an evolution of data-entry consistency over time. With the task of aggregating the accepted species names for all marine species approaching completion, our focus has shifted to improving the consistency and quality of data held while keeping pace with the addition of > 2000 new marine species described annually. This paper defines priorities and longer-term aims that promote standardisation within and interoperability among biodiversity databases, provides editors with further information on how to input nomenclatural data in a standardised way and clarifies for users of WoRMS how and why names are represented as they are. We 1) explain the categories of names included; 2) list standard reasons used to explain why a name is considered ‘unaccepted’ or ‘uncertain’; 3) present and explain the more difficult situations encountered; 4) describe categories of sources and notes linked to a taxon; and 5) recommend how type material, type locality and environmental information should be entered.


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How to Cite
Horton, T., Gofas, S., Kroh, A., Poore, G. C., Read, G., Rosenberg, G., Stöhr, S., Bailly, N., Boury-Esnault, N., Brandão, S. N., Costello, M. J., Decock, W., Dekeyzer, S., Hernandez, F., Mees, J., Paulay, G., Vandepitte, L., Vanhoorne, B., & Vranken, S. (2017). Improving nomenclatural consistency: a decade of experience in the World Register of Marine Species. European Journal of Taxonomy, (389).