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Table of Contents Preface
   Articles 1-3
   Articles 4-5
   Article 6
   Article 7
   Article 8
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   Article 10
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   Article 12
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   Article 18
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Table of Terms


The PhyloCode is a formal set of rules governing phylogenetic nomenclature. It is designed to name the parts of the tree of life by explicit reference to phylogeny. The PhyloCode will go into operation in a few years, but the exact date has not yet been determined. It is designed so that it may be used concurrently with the existing codes based on Linnaean nomenclature (ICBN, ICZN, etc.). We anticipate that many people whose research concerns phylogeny will find phylogenetic nomenclature advantageous.

The PhyloCode grew out of a workshop at Harvard University in August 1998, where basic decisions were made about its scope and content. Many of the workshop participants, together with a few other people who subsequently joined the project, have served as an advisory body (see the PhyloCode preface for a list of the people involved).

The current draft of the PhyloCode represents several years of work but is still provisional. Some rules will undoubtedly change before the code is finalized, and more examples will be added for clarification. In spite of these shortcomings, the time has come to solicit comments and ideas from a broader spectrum of systematists. We hope that many members of the scientific community will examine the draft PhyloCode and send suggestions for improvement. Although the code has initially been developed by a small group of people, it is intended for the benefit of all biologists who name clades or use clade names. The more people who help to perfect it, the better it will function.

This draft of the PhyloCode governs only the naming of clades. Rules governing species names will be added to a later version, but it is not clear at this time whether this will be done before or after the rules for clade names are implemented. Some parts of the current draft may be modified as a result of future decisions regarding the naming of species. Because the code does not currently cover species names, the examples in the present draft use Linnaean binomials when species names are cited in the phylogenetic definitions of clade names. This is a temporary situation and should not be interpreted as implying acceptance of Linnaean binomial nomenclature.

There remains substantial disagreement within the advisory group on the form that species names should take in phylogenetic nomenclature, and involvement of the community of biologists in this important decision is essential. A variety of forms that species names might take under phylogenetic nomenclature are detailed and discussed in a paper in Systematic Biology (48: 790-807. 1999). We hope that many people will read this paper and send their thoughts about how the PhyloCode should deal with species names to the e-mail address provided below.

Please send your comments on any aspect of the PhyloCode to

If you would like to join an internet discussion group focusing on phylogenetic nomenclature, send a message to The message should read: "subscribe PhyloCode" (without the quotation marks). Do not include anything else in the message. In a short time, you should receive an automatic reply explaining how to send messages to the discussion group.

Page created on April 9, 2000.     Last modified on July 1, 2002.

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We are grateful to Richard Piccard, Academic Technology Manager in Computer Services at Ohio University, for technical support, and to Andy Anderson for preparing the downloadable MS-Word and PDF files.