In an effort to (1) increase consistency; (2) improve our website visitors’ experience, and (3) reduce errors in writing amphibian’s names, we provide these guidelines on How To Write An Amphibian’s Name, and we encourage all authors in the SAVE THE FROGS! community to read, understand and implement them.
Photo of Polypedates mutus from Laos courtesy of Truong Nguyen.
How To Write An Amphibian’s Name
- Capitalize each word of the amphibian’s common name.
- Italicize the scientific name.
- When using the common name and scientific name together, write the common name before the scientific name, and put the scientific name in parentheses (but do not italicize the parentheses themselves unless they are part of a caption).
- Capitalize the genus; leave the specific name lowercase. (e.g. Litoria jungguy)
- Do not put a comma in between the common and scientific name.
- Good: Stony Creek Frog (Litoria jungguy)
- Bad: stony creek frog, Litoria jungguy,
- Good: Maya Mountain Frog (Lithobates juliani)
- Bad: lithobates juliani, Maya Mountain Frog
- Good: California Red-Legged Frog (Rana draytonii)
- Bad: red-legged frog (R. draytonii)
- Don’t capitalize endangerment status. Examples:
- Good: “We saved the critically endangered Giant Squeaker Frog (Arthroleptis krokosua).”
- Bad: We saved the Critically Endangered Giant Squeaker Frog.
- Don’t refer to a species as “federally-listed”: every animal is on some list. Instead, state its actual threat level; i.e. endangered, critically endangered, etc.
- Taxonomists like to change the scientific names of amphibians. Please refer to www.amphibiaweb.org if you are wondering what name to use for a species.
- Italicize the entire caption of a photo, including the descriptive text, common name, scientific name and parentheses.
- Always write the species name in full in its first use in an article or document, and any time it begins a sentence. Upon subsequent use or when it does not start a sentence, you could abbreviate the genus. Example:
- We love California Red-Legged Frogs (Rana draytonii). They are actually our official state amphibian! Our pond in Redding is full of R. draytonii, and last summer they were out in full force. Don’t be fooled though: these frogs are in trouble. Rana draytonii has been under threat for over a century.
We understand that different organizations have different naming systems. If you have thoughts on how we can improve our system, please submit your feedback here.
Jordan Aucoin, artist and frog lover.