International Code of Area Nomenclature

International Code of Area Nomenclature (Paris Code 2007)

Ebach, M.C., Morrone, J.J., Parenti, L.R. and Viloria, A.L. (2007) International Code of Area Nomenclature. Journal of Biogeography, 35, 1153–1157 [Download].


  1. An area of endemism is a geographical unit inferred from the combined distributions of endemic taxa.
  2. Biogeography currently has no formal naming system by which to compare areas of endemism.
  3. The International Code of Area Nomenclature (herein ICAN) provides a universal naming system to standardize area names used in biogeography and other disciplines.
  4. A naming system or nomenclature as proposed in this document requires ratification by two-thirds majority of the council members of the Systematic and Evolutionary Biogeographical Association (herein SEBA), voting either in-person, online, by letter or by proxy.

Section A: Objectives, intention and exceptions

Article 1: Objectives

  1. The objective of ICAN is to provide a universal naming system or nomenclature for areas of endemism used in biogeography and elsewhere.

Article 2: Intention

  1. ICAN is to serve as the international standard rules for proposing and using area names.

Article 3: Exceptions

  1. ICAN does not govern how names are stored in repositories, whether electronically in databases or in printed publications.
  2. ICAN does not endorse any particular method among those in use for validating or classifying areas.

Section B: Maintaining the code

Article 1: ICAN committee

  1. The ICAN Committee is responsible for the code and acts as its legislative representative.
  2. ICAN is maintained and governed by the ICAN Committee.
  3. Future ICAN Committees will be nominated and elected periodically by a two-thirds majority vote of the SEBA Council.
  4. 50% of ICAN Committee members will retire every 4 years.

Article 2: Amendments to the code

  1. Amendments to the code are made through a two-thirds majority vote by the ICAN Committee either by electronic communication or a vote in person at a SEBA meeting.
  2. All amendments of the ICAN will be published in Biogeografıa: Bulletin of the Systematic and Evolutionary Biogeographical Association (see Article 6.3 of the Charter of the Systematic and Evolutionary Biogeographical Association) or another SEBA-specified publication.
  3. All amendments will be adopted in the next version of the code as a new article entitled ‘‘Amendment A’’, ‘‘Amendment B’’ and so on.

Article 3: Language

  1. The code will be published in English and made freely available online.
  2. The English version of the code, including all amendments, is the official version.
  3. All translations of the code are to be treated as interpretations of the code.

Article 4: Notation style

  1. The notation style of the code is Pre. 3 for Preamble 3, Sec. 3 for Section 3 and Art. 2.1 for Article 2 paragraph 1.

Article 5: Citation

  1. The online version of the ICAN is to be cited as: Ebach, M.C., J.J. Morrone, L.R. Parenti and A ́.L. Viloria. 2007. International Code of Area Nomenclature, First Draft. Published by the Systematic and Evolutionary Biogeographical Association,

Section C: Nomenclatural rules

Article 1: Areas of endemism and biogeographical ranks

  1. Area names may be grouped under more inclusive area names in order to represent a biogeographical taxonomic hierarchy.
  2. It is suggested that the smallest unit or rank be a district, followed by province, dominion, region, and realm. When deemed necessary, the prefix sub- may be added to increment the categories (e.g. subdistrict, subprovince, subdominion, subregion, and subrealm).
  3. An area needs to have a rank to be named.

Article 2: Typification and availability of area names

  1. An available area name has a type-locality and either a published diagnosis or a description in a refereed publication.
  2. A type-locality, provided with appropriate geographical coordinates or being easily identifiable by a prominent geological feature, constitutes the name-bearing type to which the name of any area of endemism is permanently linked.
  3. A diagnosis or description is a published written text, which may be accompanied by a series of geographical coordinates or a map.
  4. A name without a diagnosis or description may not be linked to a type-locality until a diagnosis and/or description is given.
  5. Names that are not published with diagnoses and/or descriptions may be linked to an existing published discussion that refers to a previous diagnosis and/or description.
  6. Names that are published with a diagnosis and/or descriptions linked to a previous discussion of reference are valid and take priority.
  7. A rank can only have one valid name.
  8. The principles of homonymy, synonymy and priority apply to the names within any rank that have valid diagnoses, and should be applied with caution and reason. Any disputes must be submitted to the ICAN Committee for resolution.

Article 3: Validity and recommended citation

  1. A valid name is accompanied by the name and date of the author (e.g. Neotropical region Sclater, 1858).
  2. Where the status of a name is uncertain it is written in quotes.
  3. A name that has been synonymised is bracketed.

Article 4: Rejection of names

  1. A name cannot be rejected because it is vague or disagreeable.
  2. A name can be rejected if it has the same diagnosis, description, geographical coordinate or distribution as an existing name, regardless if the type-locality differs.
  3. Rejected names may be considered available.
  4. A name proposed after 2007 can be rejected if it is not linked to a type-locality with geographical coordinates or lacks a diagnosis, description or map.

Article 5: Orthography

  1. The spelling of an original name is to be retained unless it is proved that it was originally a misspelling.
  2. A valid name has the first letter of the first word capitalised including all nouns and adjectives, but not articles and prepositions.
  3. There are no restrictions as to the number of words a name may contain.
  4. Transliterated names will not be translated into English (e.g. Huang Ho, not Yellow River).
  5. The typographical correction of a name does not need to be reported to the ICAN Committee as a Nomenclatural Note.
  6. Any dispute over the spelling of a name should be reported to the ICAN Committee. The Committee will vote on the spelling of names in the same manner as they would on a corrected name (Sec. C. Art. 4) and will publish their decision as a Nomenclatural Note.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith