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Scientist Appointed to Prestigious Organization

UC Riverside Scientist Appointed to Prestigious Organization Overseeing Scientific Names of Animals

As a commissioner in the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, Douglas Yanega will help determine the process by which scientific names are given to animals

(June 2, 2009)

Douglas Yanega is the senior museum scientist of the UC Riverside Entomology Research Museum. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.Enlarge

Douglas Yanega is the senior museum scientist of the UC Riverside Entomology Research Museum. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Douglas Yanega, the senior museum scientist of the UC Riverside Entomology Research Museum, has been appointed as a commissioner in the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), a prominent organization that generates and disseminates information and rules on the correct formation and use of animals’ scientific names.

Currently, the ICZN has 28 commissioners from 19 countries, effectively representing every zoologist in the world. Being nominated and elected as a commissioner therefore is a rare honor.

The ICZN publishes the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, a document that lays out universally accepted rules for assigning names to animals. When problems in nomenclature arise, the commission works to reach an internationally accepted solution.

Some 1.5 million species of animals are presently recognized by scientists, and every year, more than 2,000 new genus names and 15,000 new species names are added to the zoological literature.

“The next few years promise to hold some major changes in the Code of Zoological Nomenclature,” Yanega said. “The commissioners will work to make them happen. This will, in turn, affect how the scientific community creates and publishes scientific names for at least the next decade. It is an honor for me – and a serious responsibility – to be at the heart of that process.”

Yanega received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1983, and his Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Kansas in 1991. After a postdoctoral appointment at the Illinois Natural History Survey, he took up a position as a visiting researcher at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He joined UCR’s Entomology Research Museum in 1999.

His research interests include: the evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, biogeography, and taxonomy of bees and wasps; native pollinators and pollination ecology; biological databases, wikis, and authority files; conservation biology and biodiversity; as well as mimicry and related insect defense mechanisms. He has authored more than 35 research articles, primarily on insect biology or taxonomy, including a field guide to longhorned beetles.

The ICZN was founded in 1895. Its work is supported by a small secretariat based at the Natural History Museum, United Kingdom. Its commissioners are appointed for a period ranging from 3 to 18 years.

Established in 1923, the UCR Entomology Research Museum contains some three million specimens, and serves as a repository for voucher specimens associated with research conducted by faculty, staff, and students at the University of California. Besides insects, it maintains a small collection of arthropods such as spiders, centipedes, and scorpions.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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