Binomial Nomenclature or Binary Nomenclature in Biology

What is Binomial Nomenclature or Binomial Distribution?

Binomial Distribution or Binomial Nomenclature is a formal system of naming living species; by giving a unique name composed of two parts. Both of these parts use Latin grammatical forms. Although; they can be based on words belongs to other languages. Such a name is called a binomial name, a binomen, r a scientific name. It is also called a Latin name

The first part of this unique name identifies the genus to which the species belongs, and the second part is the specific epithet or specific name. This specific name identifies the species within the genus.
For example, human beings belong to genus Homo and within this genus to the species Homo sapiens.

Who developed the system of Binomial Nomenclature?

Carlous Linnaeus (Binomial Nomenclature)

A Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus (1707 — 1778) formed a system for the naming of organisms. It is called binomial nomenclature. His system is used today internationally. He discarded the common names of the plants and gave each plant a scientific name.

He used Latin words for these scientific names. Linnaeus published the list of names of plants in 1753. His system became popular. Later, he used this system for the naming of animals.

He published the list of names of animals in 1758. Linnaeus’s system of giving each species a scientific name comprising two words is known as binomial nomenclature.

  • The first name is of the genus (pl. genera). It is called a generic name. It always begins with a capital letter.
  • The second name is of species name. It follows the generic name. It begins with a small letter. These names are given on the basis of some characteristics of the organism or person who collects it. Many of his names are used today.

Scientific Names (Binomial Nomenclature)

Some of the rules are universally adopted while suggested and documenting scientific names are:

  • Scientific names are usually printed in italics, such as Homo sapiens. When handwritten they are underlined.
  • The first term (generic name) always begins with a capital letter, while the species name is never capitalized (even when derived from a proper name).
  • The scientific name is generally written in full when it is first used. But when several species from the same genus are being listed, it may then be abbreviated by just an initial for the genus; for example, Escherichia coli becomes coli.

What are Binomial Nomenclature Examples Importance?

The scientific names of:

  • Onion: Allium cepa.
  • Amaltas: Cassia fistula.
  • Man: Homo sapiens.
  • Potato: Solanum tuberosum.
  • Tomato: Solanum esculentum.

Every species has only one scientific name all over the world. Initially, this classification was based on appearance or morphology. Later, there was an advancement in the knowledge of cytology, physiology, genetics, and molecular biology. So the classification of the organisms has been modified.

The name ‘blackbird’ is used for crow as well as for ‘raven’.Common names have no scientific basis.
For example; A fish is a vertebrate animal with fins and gills. But several common names of ‘silverfish’, ‘Crayfish’, ‘jellyfish’, and ‘starfish’ do not fit the biologist’s definition of a fish.

To avoid all these confusions, organisms are given scientific names by using binomial nomenclature. The values of this system are due to its widespread use and the stability of its names.

In binomial nomenclature, every species can be unambiguously identified with just two words. Some names can be used all over the words, in the languages, avoiding difficulties of translation.

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Background/History of Binomial Nomenclature

Nomenclature is combined to classification as it deals with the real name to be applied to a known taxonomy. It is better to use scientific names rather than that of vernacular or common names. Now a day; no two genera could have the same generic name. Also, no two species within a given genus; could have the same specific name.

In biological history; there are various examples of different nomenclatural codes. These codes are simultaneously prepared and followed by different organizations. However; such a process became less common. To achieve universality and stability in the name of animals; “The Stickland Code” (also known as First Zoological Code) was developed in 1842. It is developed by a commission that included Water house, Darwin, Westwood, and Hanslow. However; a truly cultured set of rules was not accepted until 1898.

You should know that the first code for Botany was presented by Augustin de Candolle in 1813. In 1947; the first International code in Bacteriology was accepted. Similarly, recognition of universally viral nomenclature was indicated by the virus-subcommittee firstly. The virus-subcommittee of the International Commission on Bacteriology was established in 1951. Since the first statement on nomenclature and classification of viruses was published in 1971.

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The Virological Codes are most recent these days. Virological Codes subject to considerable amendment before being finalized. The Botanical nomenclature and Zoological nomenclature are independent of each other. Every attempt should be made to avoid the introduction of those generic names in Botany; which are already in use in Zoology. The experimental or scientific names of animals from sub-genera and above are always uninominal. The names of these species are binomial and those of sub-species are always trinomial.

The Universal Code for Zoological Nomenclature also brings out some serious declaration. It is declared that the committee or commission is allowed to implement the arrangement for the modifications of the universal code. The formal indexes of invalid and rejected names and the official tests of confirmed names are approved ones. Although; published by the trust independently; they are considered to be essential parts of the Universal Zoological Code.

Important Rules of Binomial Nomenclature

  • The first name is a generic name which is the name of the genus.
  • The second name is the name of species, i.e. specific name.
  • Genus name is written by a capital letter.
  • The species name is written by a small letter.
  • Both names should be underlined or should be written in italic form.

Significance of Binomial Nomenclature

Why is binomial nomenclature important?
There are three reasons for giving a scientific name to organisms:

  • Different names for the same Organism

Different people gave different names to the same organism in the past time. There was no system of giving names to the organisms. Different regions had different names of the same organism.
For example amaltas, argvad, gurmala, golden shower, and purging cassia are different common names of the same plant.

  • Same name for different organisms

In some cases, a single name is given to several different plants and animals. For example:

  1. Dozens of plants with bell-shaped flowers are named ‘bluebell’.
  2. The name ‘blackbird’ is given to the crow and raven.
  • Common name without scientific basis

Common name has no scientific basis. Fish is a vertebrate animal. It has backbone, fins, and gills. Silverfish (an insect), crayfish, jellyfish, and starfish do not have these characters. So they cannot be placed in fishes.

Advantages of Binomial Nomenclature (Scientific Names)

The binomial nomenclature or scientific name has a number of advantages over the everyday and common names.

  • Well Organized & Classified

The organism can be smoothly or easily categorized. This genuinely helps to make it easier and straight-forward to understand the characteristics of a specific organism or creature in an organized chart.

  • Clarity and Precision

These names are always unique with each organism or creature having only one scientific name. It helps avoid confusion or turbulence created by the common names.

  • Universal Recognition

Scientific names are accepted and standardized universally. However; popular or common name changes with area location or language. These names are always the same among the scientific people all over the Globe.

  • Stability

The Scientific Names are maintained even if the species are shifted to the other genera; based on new observations & knowledge.  Using scientific names; different characteristics or properties of the organism or species can be obtained.

  • Interspecific relationship

Binomial or Scientific terms help understand the differences & similarities between different species or organisms belonging to the same genera. It is useful in establishing a relation between the two species.

  • A lesser or minor error in communication regarding the knowledge or studies of any organism because these names are unique to it and the same all over the globe.
  • The scientific name’s big advantage is its exactness.
  • The scientific Name or Binomial Name is regulated by The International Code of Binomial Nomenclature.

Disadvantages of Binomial Nomenclature (Scientific Names)

  • The versatility of binomial names is limited by the fact that their classification is not fixed in size. A taxon may have a changing circumscription.
  • The class of a particular binomial name is quite limited according to some community and really big according to other communities. This will depend on the taxonomic system or taxonomic point of view.
  • Some binomial names refer to groups or communities that are very stable (e.g. Magnoliaceae, Equisetaceae). Although, for others names; a careful and mindful check is needed to see which limitation is being used (e.g. Scrophulariaceae, Fabaceae).
  • Latin words or names are also difficult to memorize. For these logics, some government agencies and organizations are trying to create a list of some official names based on the official language or native of the country.
  • They are lengthy and very hard to learn.
  • To normal people, they are unknown in Latinized Greek meaningless or Latin language.

List of Common and Scientific Names of Plants

This appendix contains a fine list of the scientific and common names of plant species. These names are mentioned in the content/text of the EIS.

Grasses and Grass-like Plants

Common NameScientific Name
Alkali SacatonSporobolus airoides
Barley, FoxtailHordeum jubatum
BluegrassPoa spp.
Bluegrass, AlkaliPoa juncifolia
Bluegrass, KentuckyPoa pretensis
Bluegrass, NevadaPoa nevadensis
Bluegrass, Sandberg’sPoa secunda
Brome, DownyBromus tectorum
Brome, MountainBromus carinatus
Brome, RedBromus rubens
CheatgrassBromus tectorum
Cordgrass, AlkaliSpartina gracilis
Fescue, IdahoFestuca idahoensis
Grama, BlueBouteloua gracilis
Hairgrass, TuftedDeschampsia cespitosa
Muhly GrassMuhlenbergia capillaris
MuttongrassPoa fendleriana
Needle-and-threadHesperostipa comata
Needlegrass, ColumbiaAchnatherum nelsonii
Needlegrass, Letterman’sAchnatherum lettermanii
Needlegrass, Thurber’sAchnatherum thurberianum
Needlegrass, WesternAchnatherum occidentale
QuackgrassElymus repens
RedtopAgrostis gigantea
Ricegrass, IndianAchnatherum hymenoides
Rush, BalticJuncus balticus
Rush, SpikeEleocharis spp.
SaltgrassDistichlis spicata
Saltgrass, InlandDistichlis spicata
Sedge, Clustered FieldCarex praegracilis
Sedge, NebraskaCarex nebrascensis
Sedge, Water-lovingCarex aquatilis
SquirreltailElymus spp.
Squirreltail, BottlebrushElymus elymoides
Timothy, AlpinePhleum alpinum
Wheatgrass, BluebunchPseudoroegneria spicata
Wheatgrass, CrestedAgropyron cristatum
Wheatgrass, SlenderElymus trachycaulus
Wheatgrass, WesternPascopyrum smithii
Wildrye, BasinLeymus cinereus

Forbs and Nonvascular Plants

Common NameScientific Name
BalsamrootBalsamorhiza spp.
Bassia, FivehookBassia hyssopifolia
Buckwheat, BeatleyEriogonum beatleyae
BulrushScirpus spp.
Cat-tailTypha latifolia
CinquefoilPotentilla spp.
Clover, SierraTrifolium sp.
Cress, HoaryCardaria draba
EriogonumEriogonum spp.
Forage KochiaBassia prostrata
GoldenweedHaplopappus acaulis
HalogetonHalogeton glomeratus
HawksbeardCrepis spp.
Iris, WildIris missouriensis
Knapweed, RussianAcroptilon repens
Knapweed, SpottedCentaurea stoebe
Lahontan BeardtonguePenstemon palmeri
Least PhacelliaPhacelia minutissima
LocoweedOxytropis lambertii
LupineLupine spp.
Milkvetch, One-leaflet TorreyAstragalus calycosus
MintMentha spp.
Mustard, TansyDescurainia pinnata
Mustard, WildSinapis arvensis
Nevada WillowherbEpilobium nevadense
OnionAllium sp.
Paintbrush, Monte NevaCastilleja salsuginosa
PenstemonPenstemon spp.
PhloxPhlox spp.
PickleweedSalicornia sp.
PuncturevineTribulus terrestris
Ragwort, TansySenecio jacobaea
ReedgrassCalamagrostis spp.
Scarlet Globe-mallowSphaeralcea coccinea
SeepweedSuaeda intermedia
SnakeweedGutierrezia spp.
Snakeweed, BroomGutierrezia sarothrae
SorrelRumex acetosa
SpikerushElocharis spp.
Spurge, LeafyEuphorbia esula
St. Johnswort, CommonHypericum perforatum
Thistle, BullCirsium vulgare
Thistle, CanadaCirsium arvense
Thistle, MuskCarduus nutans
Thistle, RussianSalsola tragus
Thistle, ScotchOnopordum acanthium
WatercressNasturtium officinale
Whitetop, TallLepidium latifolium
YarrowAchillea spp.

Shrubs and Trees

Common NameScientific Name
Aspen, QuakingPopulus tremuloides
Bitterbrush, AntelopePurshia tridentata
Bud SagebrushPicrothamnus desertorum
CeanothusCeanothus sp.
ChokecherryPrunus virginiana
Cottonwood, BlackPopulus balsamifera var. trichocarpa
Fir, WhiteAbies concolor
GooseberryRibes spp.
GreasewoodSarcobatus spp.
Greasewood, BlackSarcobatus vermiculatus
Greenstem PaperflowerPsilostrophe sparsiflora
Hemlock, PoisonConium maculatum
HopsageGrayia spp.
Hopsage, SpinyGrayia spinosa
Horsebrush, LittleleafTetradymia glabrata
Iodine BushAllenrolfea occidentalis
Juniper, UtahJuniperus osteosperma
Mahogany, Cur-leaf MountainCercocarpus ledifolius
ManzanitaArctostaphylos spp.
Mormon TeaEphedra spp.
Nevada EphedraEphedra nevadensis
Pine, LimberPinus flexilis
Pinyon, SingleleafPinus monophylla
Poison hemlockConium maculatum
RabbitbrushChrysothamnus spp. and Ericameria spp.
Rabbitbrush, Douglas’Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus
Rabbitbrush, RubberChrysothamnus nauseosus
Rose, WildRosa spp.
Sage, MediterraneanSalvia aethiopis
SagebrushArtemisia spp.
Sagebrush, Basin BigArtemesia tridentata tridentata
Sagebrush, BigArtemisia tridentata
Sagebrush, BlackArtemisia nova
Sagebrush, LowArtemisia arbuscula
Sagebrush, Mountain bigArtemesia tridentata ssp vaseyana
Sagebrush, Wyoming bigArtemesia tridentata spp. whyomingensis
SaltbushAtriplex spp.
Saltbush, Four-wingAtriplex canescens
Saltcedar (tamarisk)Tamarix ramosissima
ServiceberryAmelanchier utahensis
ShadscaleAtriplex confertifolia
SnowberrySymphoricarpos albus
WillowSalix spp.
Willow, ArroyoSalix lasiolepis
Willow, Narrow-leafSalix exigua
Willow, RockSalix vestita
WinterfatKrascheninnikovia lanata

List of Common and Scientific Names of Invertebrates

This appendix contains a fine list of the scientific and common names of invertebrate species. These names are mentioned in the content/text of the EIS.

Common NameScientific Name
SpringsnailPyrgulopsis spp.
True BugHemiptera

List of Common and Scientific Names of Fish

This appendix contains a fine list of the scientific and common names of fish species. These names are mentioned in the content/text of the EIS.

Common NameScientific Name
Chub, Newark Valley TuiSiphateles bicolor newarkensis
Chub, TuiGila spp.
Dace, Monitor Valley SpeckledRhinichthys osculus spp.
Dace, SpeckledRhinichthys osculus
Shiner, RedsideCyprinella lutrensis
Sucker, MountainCatostomus platyrhynchos
Sucker, TahoeCatostomus tahoensis
Trout, BrookSalvelinus frontinalis
Trout, BrownSalmo trutta
Trout, RainbowOncorhynchus myliss

List of Common and Scientific Names of Reptiles & Amphibians

This appendix contains a fine list of the scientific and common names of reptiles and amphibians species. These names are mentioned in the content/text of the EIS.

Common NameScientific Name
Boa, RubberCharina bottae
CoachwhipMasticophis flagellum
Frog, Columbia SpottedRana luteiventris
Frog, Northern LeopardLithobates pipiens
Lizard, Great Basin CollaredCrotaphytus bicinctores
Lizard, Greater Short-hornedPhrynosoma douglasii
Lizard, Long-nosed LeopardGambelia wislizenii
Lizard, SagebrushSceloporus graciosus
Lizard, Western FenceSceloporus occidentalis
Rattlesnake, WesternCrotalus oreagnus
Snake, Long-nosedRhinocheilus lecontei
Snake, RingneckDiadophis punctatus
Toad, Great Basin SpadefootSpea intermontana
Toad, WesternAnaxyrus boreas
Whipsnake, StripedMasticophis taeniatus ornatus

List of Common and Scientific Names of Birds

This appendix contains a fine list of the scientific and common names of bird species. These names are mentioned in the content/text of the EIS.

Common NameScientific Name
American BitternBotaurus lentiginosus
American KestrelFalco sparverius
American RobinTurdus americanus
Black Rosy-finchLeucosticte atrata
Bluebird, MountainSialia currucoides
Bluebird, WesternSialia mexicana
Chickadee, MountainPoecile gambeli
Cuckoo, Yellow-billedCoccyzus americanus
Dove, MourningZenaida macroura
Eagle, BaldHaliaeetus leucocephalus
Eagle, GoldenAquila chrysaetos
Falcon, PrairieFalco mexicanus
Falcon, PeregrineFalco peregrinus
Finch, Cassin’sHaemorhous cassinii
Flicker, NorthernColaptes auratus
Flycatcher, GrayEmpidonax wrightii
Flycatcher, WillowEmpidonax traillii
Gnatcatcher, Blue-grayPolioptila caerulea
Goose, CanadaBranta canadensis
Goose, SnowChen hyperborea
Hawk, Cooper’sAccipiter cooperi
Hawk, FerruginousButeo regalis
Hawk, Red-tailedButeo jamaicensis
Hawk, Rough-leggedButeo lagopus
Hawk, Sharp-shinnedAccipiter striatus
Hawk, Swainson’sButeo swainsoni
Heron, Black-crowned NightNycticorax nycticorax
Heron, Great BlueArdea herodias
Jay, PinyonGymnorhinus cyanocephalus
Jay, Western ScrubApelocoma californica
MallardAnas platyrhynchos
Meadowlark, WesternSturnella neglecta
MerlinFalco columbarius
Nighthawk, CommonChordeiles minor
Northern CootFulica americana
Northern GoshawkAccipiter gentilis
Northern HarrierCircus cyaneus
Nuthatch, Red-breastedSitta canadensis
Owl, BarnTyto alba
Owl, FlammulatedOtus flammeolus
Owl, Great HornedBubo virginianus
Owl, Long-earedAsio otus
Owl, Northern PygmyGlaucidium gnoma
Owl, Northern Saw-whetAegolius acadicus
Owl, Short-earedAsio flammeus
Owl, Western BurrowingAthene cunicularia
Partridge, ChukarAlectoris graeca
Quail, MountainOreortyx pictus
Raven, CommonCorvus corax
Robin, AmericanTurdus americanus
Sage-grouse, GreaterCertrocercus urophasianus
Screech-owl, WesternOtus asio
Shrike, LoggerheadLanius ludovicianus
Solitaire, Townsend’sMyadestes townsendi
SoraPorzana carolina
Sparrow, Black-throatedAmphispiza bilineata
Sparrow, Brewer’sSpizella breweri
Sparrow, LarkChondestes grammacus
Sparrow, SageAmphispiza belli
Swan, TundraCygnus columbianus
Thrasher, SageOreoscoptes montanus
Titmouse, JuniperBaeolophus ridgwayi
Towhee, Green-tailedPipilo chlorurus
Vulture, TurkeyCathartes aura
Warbler, Black-throated GraySetophaga nigrescens
Warbler, Macgillvray’sGeothlypis tolmiei
Warbler, Orange-crownedOreothlypis celata
Warbler, Virginia’sVermivora virginiae
Waxwing, CedarBombycilla cedrorum
Woodpecker, Lewis’Melanerpes lewis

List of Common and Scientific Names of Mammals

This appendix contains a fine list of the scientific and common names of mammals species. These names are mentioned in the content/text of the EIS.

Common NameScientific Name
Antelope, PronghornAntilocapra americana
Bat, Little BrownMyotis lucifugus
Bat, Silver-hairedLasionycteris noctivagans
Bat, Townsend’s Big-earedCorynorhinus townsendii
Cottontail, MountainSylvilagus nuttallii
CougarPuma concolor
Cow, DomesticBos primigenius taurus
CoyoteCanis latrans
Deer, MuleOdocoileus hemionus
HorseEquus ferus caballus
Jackrabbit, Black-tailedLepus californicus
Marmot, HoaryMarmota caligata
Mouse, Dark KangarooMicrodipodops megacephalus
Mouse, DeerPeromyscus maniculatus
Mouse, PinyonPeromyscus truei
Myotis, CaliforniaMyotis californicus
Fringed, MyotisMyotis thysanodes
Myotis, HoaryLasiurus cinereus
Myotis, Long-earedMyotis evotis
Long-legged, MyotisMyotis volans
Western Small-footed, MyotisMyotis ciliolabrum
Pipistrelle, WesternParastrellus hesperus
PorcupineErethizon dorsatum
Rabbit, PygmyBrachylagus idahoensis
Rat, Desert KangarooDipodomys deserti
Rat, Ord’s KangarooDipodomys ordii
Sheep, BighornOvis canadensis
Sheep, DomesticOvis aries
Shrew, MontaneSorex monticolus
Vole, SagebrushLemmiscus curtatus
Woodrat, Bushy-tailedNeotoma cinerea


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