Sign this post to support the capitalising of English names of species

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday 3 February 2022 10:15

Last year I wrote this post. It is by far the most viewed post I have ever written on this blog in 12 years of blogging, with over 3000 views! So I thought we needed to put a little more momentum into it. 

So, if you agree with the following statement, why not put your name to it and ideally, let me know who you work for OR say 'rather not say'. Either comment or message me directly. And please share this post like mad so we can get a big list of names going. Yes, some big organisations are doing it wrong but some are getting right, like Butterfly Conservation, BTO and (now) Sussex Wildlife Trust. And publications like British Wildlife and Adastra also get it bang on. If you can think of anymore, please feel free to comment too.

"English names of species should be correctly capitalised and hyphenated, effectively treated as 'proper names'. This should be mandatory and standardised, as is the format for scientific names. There are many different reasons to do this explained more fully in the above mentioned post but perhaps none are more troublesome than the fact that lower case should be reserved for the generic sense, i.e., we have three species of forester in the UK, one of which is the Forester (above). Without the species being correctly capitalised, there is no way to distinguish species from genus. And there are a many different ways this can go wrong, from Small Blue becoming small blue to Little Ringed Plover becoming little ringed plover. The excuse that "capitals look bad on the page" is not a valid excuse. If you are writing primarily about species, they should be written with capitals. 

  • Little Ringed Plover NOT little ringed plover
  • Mediterranean Gull NOT Mediterranean gull
  • Silver-washed Fritillary NOT silver washed fritillary
  • Forester (or The Forester) NOT forester (or the forester)

The argument that species should be treated as 'proper names' is important. Yes, each species might be comprised of countless millions of individuals but by definition, they are distinct at the genetic level. There is (roughly speaking) one distinct set of code per species. It is this that should be treated as a proper noun/name. If we can be bothered to capitalise the names of man-made dog breeds and models of cars, we owe it to the natural world too."

Organisations, publications and projects that get it right.

  • RSPB (changed with help from this campaign)
  • BUBO
  • IUCN Red List
  • UK Species Inventory
  • Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust
  • Sussex Ornithological Society
  • Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland
  • The Species Recovery Trust
  • Wild Ken Hill
  • Buglife (changed due to this campaign)
  • Pelagic Publishing (changed due to this campaign)
  • Butterfly Conservation (BC)
  • British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)
  • Sussex Wildlife Trust (changed due to this campaign)
  • British Wildlife
  • NBN
  • iRecord
  • Recorder 6
  • British Birds
  • British Ornithologists' Union (BOU)
  • State of Nature
  • Back from the Brink
  • Adastra (Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre annual publication)
  • iNaturalist

1). Graeme Lyons                  Freelance entomologist and ecologist

2). Tony Davis                       Senior Ecologist, Butterfly Conservation

3). Michael Pannell

4). Graeme Davis              Environmental Correspondent at Love Andover Observer

5). Simon Edwards               Self employed

6). Daniel Blyton                  Amateur entomologist

7). Mark Whittaker               Animal Welfare Assistant

8). Adrian Knowles              Self-employed Ecologist

9). Martin Bell                      Amateur naturalist

10). Mark G. Telfer              Entomological Consultant

11). Marilyn Abdulla           Amateur naturalist & wildlife recorder

12). Malcom Storey            Naturalist and wildlife recorder

13). Louis Parkerson           Amateur naturalist

14). Julian Small                 Peatland Restoration Advisor

15). John Pilgrim                Ecological Consultant

16). Su Reed                       Naturalist and wildlife recorder

17). Mike Wall                    County Moth Recorder for Hampshire

18). Terry Crow                  Amateur naturalist & wildlife recorder

19). Rachel Bicker             Airport Biodiversity Consultant

20). Matthew Oates            Field Naturalist and Nature Writer

21). Ralph Hobbs               County Recorder for Orthoptera, Sussex

22). David Green                Trustee of conservation organisation & Ecologist

23). Rich Billington   Associate Professor of Biology and amateur naturalist, University of Plymouth

24). Darren Matthews         Former wildlife ranger

25). John Lyden                  Biology teacher and amateur naturalist

26). Mariska Hattenburger  Amateur wildlife recorder

27). Jim Ormerod                Amateur birder & naturalist

28). Lloyd Davies                Amateur wildlife recorder

29). Judy Staines                  Amateur naturalist & wildlife recorder

30). Neil Fletcher                 Environment Support Officer, Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Environmental Record Centre.

31). Andy Musgrove             Ecological Consultant

32). Bill Urwin                      Naturalist, Marauder, Educationalist (retired)

33). Ai-Lin Kee                     Amateur Naturalist

34). Kevin Rylands                Conservation Adviser Fair to Nature & RSPB

35). John Martin                     Retired National Vascular Plant Specialist at Natural England

36). Marcus Lawson               Ex Dorset Bird Recorder & Dorset Bird Club Chairman

37). Mark Skevington             Amateur naturalist, pan-species lister and Naturespot verifier

38). Roman Soroka                 Armchair naturalist

39). Natasha Clark                  Amateur naturalist & wildlife recorder

40). Paul French                     Senior Ornithologist, HiDef aerial surveying

41). Les Evans-Hill                Butterfly Conservation Senior Data Officer

42). Dr Barry Yates                 Ecologist, land manager, studied Zoology at Imperial College in 1970s

43). Clive McKay                   Ecologist

44). Piers Vigus                      Management Consultant

45). Dave Gould                     Amateur naturalist and biological recorder

46). Marc Taylor                    County Recorder of Diptera, entomological field surveyor and trainer

47). Leon Truscott                 Cornwall County Moth Recorder

48). Dave Appleton                Birder, entomologist, all-round naturalist and wildlife recorder. County recorder for Neuroptera and allies

49). Paul Griggs

50). Alastair Rae

51). Alan Miller                     Wildlife tour leader

52). Jon Dunn                         Nature write, wildlife photographer and tour leader

53). Iain Downie                    eBird Developer, Arachnologist

54). Liam Crowlie                  Postdoctoral researcher, University of Oxford

55). Edward Pollard               Technical Director, the Biodiversity Consultancy

56). Steven Falk                     Associate Stickler

57). Chris Gibson                   Freelance naturalist, author, speaker and tour leader

58). Gino Brignoli                  FSC BioLinks Project Officer

59). Dave Smallshire              Retired policy advisor with Defra/NE & retired Naturetrek tour leader

60). Steve Preddy                   Co-author, Ornithological Society of the Middle East regional bird list, County Dragonfly Recorder, Monmouthshire

61). James Emerson                Amateur naturalist

62). Adrian Dutton                  Entomologist

63). Monty Larkin                Writer, retired conservation adviser and founder of Sussex Pony Grazing & Conservation Trust

64).  Sean Browne                 Amateur naturalist

65). Seth Gibson                    Amateur naturalist on a mission        

66). Bill Sutherland                Professor of Conservation Biology, University of Cambridge

67). Tristan Bantock               Entomologist

68). Alex Prendergast             Vascular Plants Senior Specialist, Natural England

69).  Adam Rowe                    LERC Manager            

70).  Nigel Wheatley               Author of books on birds      

71). Carey Lodge                    Amateur recorder

72). Hawk Honey                   Visitor Officer, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, amateur Hymenopterist

73). Elizabeth Jude

74). Pete Holdaway

75). Vince Smith

76). Jeremy Dagley

77). Finley Hutchinson          Amateur entomologist

78). Paul Tout                        Naturalist, translator

79). Dan Asaw                       BioLinks Courses

80). Ian Carter                       Naturalist and author

81). Graham White               Ecologist

82). Dawn Balmer                 Ornithologist

83). Mike Hoit                       Ornithologist and field ecologist

84). Richard Mabbut             Amateur botanist recording in VC55

85). Tim Inskipp                    Naturalist and author

86). Dawn Nelson                  Botanist

87). Alistair Shuttleworth       Amateur naturalist

88). Hillary Melton-Butcher 

89). Jeremy Lindsell               Director of Science and Conservation, A Rocha International

90). Linda Robinson               VC65 (Botanical) Recorder

91). Thomas Curculio             Author and amateur entomologist

92). Audrey E. Turner             Butterfly recorder for VC95/Moray

93). Sarah Whild                     Botanist and biological recorder

94). Alyson Freeman               VC32 Botanical recorder

95). Peter Llewellyn                Botanist

96). Richard Goldlfinch          Amateur naturalist

97). Ian Bennallick                  BSBI recorder for East Cornwall

98). Mike Crewe                      Tour guide, environmentalist and editor

99). Chris Vincent                    Amateur naturalist and moth recorder

100). Jayne Chapman               Estate and Conservation Manager, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

101). Rebecca Jones                 Marine Ornithologist, Natural England

102). Jason Steel                       Amateur wildlife photographer

103).  Owen Beckett                 Entomologist

104).  Sam Buckton                   Yorkshire Naturalists Union/British Plant Gall Society

105). Sam Stripp                        Amateur naturalist

106). Paul Hopkins                    Amateur naturalist

107). Mark Lawlor                    Guernsey bird recorder and naturalist

108). Steve Smith                      Dorset birder

109). Andy Butler                      Derbyshire birder

110). Kevin Clements                Naturalist and Green Space Manager

111). Diana Spencer                  Bats in Churches

112). Neil Hulme                       Freelance ecologist and wildlife guide

113). Robin Knill-Jones             Retired academic and Lepidoptera recorder

114). Paul Tinsley-Marshall       Conservation Evidence Manager, Kent Wildlife Trust

115). Matt Phelps                       Conservationist and write

116). Savanna van Mesdag        PhD student

117). Chris Glanfield                  Amateur naturalist

118). Denise Wawman               Amateur naturalist, Hippobosciade recorder and bird ringer

119). Sam Bayley                       Consultant Ecologist/Ornithologist

120). Rob Grimmond

121). Tylan Berry                        County recorder for spiders in Cornwall

122). Ian Hartley                        Editor Bird Study, Senior Lecturer , Lancaster University

123). Paul Dolman                     Professor of Conservation Ecology at University of East Anglia

124). Mike Mullis                      Naturalist

125). Tom Simon                       Senior Countryside Officer, Epping Forest District Council

126). Liz Palmer                        Birdwatcher

127). Richard Moore

128). Steph Holt                         Ecologist

127). Bill Honeywell

128). Chris Raper                       Manager of the UK Species Inventory, The Natural History Museum

129). Andy Marquis                   Amateur naturalist

130). Rosemary Parslow            BSBI Recorder, Isles of Scilly

131). Rob Large                         Field Ecologist

132). Steve Dudley                    COO, British Ornithologists' Union

133). George McGavin              Zoologist, entomologist, broadcaster and President of Dorset Wildlife Trust

134). Jake Everitt                      Countryside and Ecology Manager

135). Robbie Still                      Digital Transformation Officer at Kent Wildlife Trust

136). Tom Gittings                    Ecological Consultant

137). Lee Dingain                     Naturalist, ecological consultant, nature writer, conservationist

138). Julian Hughes                  Editor of the Welsh Bird Report

139). Tim Thomas                    Environmental Consultant

140). Steve Elcoate

141). Tony Perry

142). Steve Lister                     Lifelong birder/naturalist, retired county bird recorder and & annual report write, eBird regional reviewer

143). David @the Hall of Einer    Wildlife and nature blogger

144). Warren Maguire              Marine Isopod Recording Scheme and linguist

145). Cath Hodsman                Insect Artist

146). Libby Morris                   Amateur naturalist, student and wildlife artist

147). Joe Beale                         Naturalist

148). Josie Hewitt                     Amateur naturalist

149). Bob Vaughan

150). Kelly Thomas                  Senior Ecologist

151). Howard Vaughan             All round naturalist, RSPB

152). Jane Thomas                    Amateur naturalist

153). Lee Hurell                       Lepidopterist and English teacher

154). Steve J. McWilliam

155). Tim Jonas                         Amateur naturalist and photographer

156). Philip Amies                   Retired estate land manager and ecological consultant

157). Dr Phil Saunders            Ecologist/ornithologist

158). Ben Lewis                      Conservation warden, bird charity

159). Bob Foreman                  Biodiversity Data Lead, Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre

160). Mary Atkinson                Field naturalist

161). Harry Hussey                  Consultant ornithologist

162). Sue Loader                      Amateur naturalist and recorder

163). Ian Lewis                         Retired Biochemical Scientist

164). Tom Derutter

165). Martin Roberts                County Dragonfly Recorder and amateur naturalist

166). Dan Brown           

167). James Lowen                  Naturalist and author       

168). Mark Duffell                   Botanist, botanical lecturer and surveyor

169). Paul Doherty                   York birder and producer of wildlife videos

170). John Moon

171). Samantha Batty               Horticulturalist and wildlife recorder

172). Brigit Strawbridge           Amateur naturalist and author

173). Graham Madge

174). Shaun Pryor                     Ecological consultant

175). Robert Edgar                    Retired English Nature Conservation Officer

176). Tony Stones

177). Dan Chaney                      Birder

178). Ottavio Janner                  Birder and translator

179). Vanna Bartlett 

180). Robin Harris                    Amateur naturalist

181). Penny Green                    Ecologist

182). Joshua Styles                   Botanical Specialist

183). Glenn Norris                    Ecologist, Sussex Wildlife Trust

184). Simon Hedges                 Conservationist

185). John Hancox

186). Andy Brown                    Principal Specialist, Species Conversation

187). James Lowther                Molecular Biologist

188). Phil T                               Lifelong birder

189). Lee Walther                     National Trust Ranger

190). Dr Clive McKay              Ecologist

191). Dr Roger Kendrick          Director, C & R Wildlife, Hong Kong. Founder: Asian Lepidoptera Conservation Symposium series. 

192).  Chloe Edwards                Director of Nature Recovery, Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust

193).  John Burnham                 Amateur entomologist and photographer

194). Tim Dixon

195). Mariko Whyte                  Conservation Officer, Dorset Wildlife Trust

196). Ian Ellis                           Consultant Ecologist

197). Richard Lewington          Wildlife Illustrator

198). Suzy White

199). James Langiewicz           Amateur naturalist

200). Dawn Langiewicz             Amateur naturalist

201). Liam Olds                       Entomologist and organiser of the National Oil Beetle Recording Scheme

202). Stephen Wadsworth        Ornithologist and Naturalist

203). Brian Clews

204). Wil J. Heaney                 Ecologist/entomologist

205). Alastair Forsyth              Retired ecology technician and teacher, now amateur entomologist

206). Alison Cobbing              Amateur naturalist

207). Toby Collett                   Warden

208). Frances Abraham           Sussex Botanical Recording Society

209). Mike Edwards                Entomologist

210). John Boback                  American naturalist

211). Clare Blencowe             Head of Sussex Biological Records Centre

212). Dom Price                      Director, the Species Recovery Trust

213). Stewart Sexton               Amateur naturalist

214). Libby Ralph

215). Anne Donnelly                Data Officer at ERIC NE

216). Nigel Jennings                Volunteer Group Leader, Kent Wildlife Trust

217). Dr Gordon McGlone OBE      Conservationist and campaigner

218). Ian Boyd                         Ecologist

219). Derek Crawley

220). Talya S. Davies

221). Keiron Derek Brown      National recorder for earthworms

222). Stepehen Welch               Lothian SOC bird recorder

223). Lindsay Morris                Amateur naturalist

224). Rich Black                       Sussex based birder, Sussex Wildlife Trust

225). Dick Alder                        West Weald Fungi Recording Group

226). Max Barclay                    Curator of Coleoptera at NHM

227). Mike Prince                     Natural England, Biodiversity Data Engagement Lead


141 Response to "Sign this post to support the capitalising of English names of species"

Graeme Says:

100% agree. I write articles for the general public. I find capitalising the species makes a point of that being it’s name. After editing and making species lower case it does sound like I am referring to a genus or family and it looses the point and impact.

Graeme Lyons Says:

Thanks Graeme, can I have your full name and maybe a job title if relevant?

Graeme Says:

Graeme Davis Environmental Correspondent at Love Andover Observer

Unknown Says:

I have been doing this for years and whole-heartedly support your stance.
Adrian Knowles, Self-employed Ecologist

Anonymous Says:

Completely agree. Mark G. Telfer - Entomological Consultant.

Anonymous Says:

I completely agree, and always follow regardless. John Pilgrim, Ecological Consultant.

Rach Bicker Says:

I was taught to do this in BSc Zoology and MSc Biological Sciences Research. Reviewing species reports is a big part of my work now and capitalising the official common names has always made much more sense. Rachel Bicker - Airport Biodiversity Consultant

Matthew Oates Says:

Sign me up, and let's get this into the Natural History GCSE.
Matthew Oates Field Naturalist & Nature Writer

Ralph Hobbs Says:

Always used caps as taught in zoology in Uni in the early 70s. Irks me every time I see lower case for names!

Mr Egg Says:

Absolutely agree with this, 100%. Without capitalisation confusion reigns. David Green - Trustee of conservation organisations and Ecologist

Unknown Says:

Agree completely: Rich Billington, Associate Professor of Biology and amateur naturalist, University of Plymouth

Unknown Says:

Agree - Ai-Lin Kee, Amateur Naturalist.

Dawlish Warren Says:

Agree 100% Kevin Rylands Conservation Adviser Fair to Nature & rspb

John Martin Says:

Right with you on this Graeme, should be standard.

Marcus Lawson Says:

Please add my name Graeme as I've never understood why they aren't capitalised standardly. Ex Dorset Bird Recorder & Dorset Bird Club Chairman.

Skev Says:

Totally agree, and wish (for example) the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts would come to their senses and sort out the style guides for their publications. Lower case vernaculars just create potential for confusion. Mark Skevington - Amateur naturalist, pan-species lister and Naturespot verifier.

Roman Says:

Agree completely, when communicating clarity is essential. Roman Soroka, armchair naturalist.

Anonymous Says:

Agree 100%. Text with and without capitals have completely different meanings. Sandwich Tern is a common tern in England, but it is not a Common Tern in England, or anywhere. Grey Wagtail is a yellow wagtail, but it is not a Yellow Wagtail.

Also, using capitals "for proper names only" is incredibly complex, requiring information on the etymology of a name, which can be extremely obscure, or counter-intuitive. Consistent, fully predictable capitalisation removes this need.

Unknown Says:

100% agree with you and everyone above on this. RSPB one of the worst offenders.

Natasha Clark Says:

Totally agree and support this campaign. Natasha Clark, amateur naturalist and recorder.

Paul French Says:

Agree. Paul French, Senior Ornithologist, HiDef aerial surveying.

Les Hill Says:

About time this was addressed.

Les Evans-Hill
Butterfly Conservation
Senior Data Officer

Barry Says:

Agree completely - Dr Barry Yates ecologist, land manager, studied Zoology at Imperial College in 1970s

Unknown Says:

100%. Clive McKay, ecologist

Piers Says:

Agree completely: Piers Vigus, Management Consultant.

Unknown Says:

I worked for RSPB for 40 years and had to follow their 'House Style' which is lowercase except for proper names. Now I am Chair of Clyde Branch of the Scottish Ornithologists' Club and their House Style is for capitals. Seems much better to me to use capitals

Ambler Says:

I'm in total agreement.
David Gould. Amateur naturalist and biological recorder.

MarcT Says:

Graeme, I support this, but need to confess my education was so long ago and so poor, that I had to further read up on the subject and why it is so important. Life, long learning for which I thank you and all those above for their perspectives.

Marc Taylor, County Recorder of Diptera, entomological field surveyor and trainer.

Unknown Says:

Yes, I agree. Leon Truscott, Cornwall County Moth Recorder

Dave Appleton Says:

100% agree. Species names are names and should be capitalised. Looks right, is right, avoids ambiguity. Dave Appleton, birder, entomologist, all-round naturalist and wildlife recorder; county recorder for Neuroptera & allies.

Paul Griggs Says:

I was taught to do this in "O" level Biology in the '70s. Whenever I see the convention not being followed the publisher loses my respect. Is it not still taught in schools?

Graeme Lyons Says:

Thanks so much for all the comments, please keep them coming. A few people have commented but have not mentioned their name and or their job (if they would like it added). Please comment again with all your details so I can put your name on the list. Up to 50 names already!

Jon Dunn Says:

Wholeheartedly agree with this. I'd also like to see the grammatical car crash that's some Stacian botanical names overhauled (Early-purple Orchid, I'm looking at you), but that's a fight for another day.

Jon Dunn (Nature writer, wildlife photographer & tour leader)

iaindownie Says:

Iain Downie (eBird Developer), Arachnologist.

Liam Crowley Says:

Agree and signed. Liam Crowley - Postdoctoral researcher, University of Oxford.

Unknown Says:

Sign me up.
Edward Pollard, Technical Director, The Biodiversity Consultancy

Gino Brignoli Says:

Happy to be added. Gino Brignoli - FSC BioLinks Project Officer

Steve Preddy Says:

I wholeheartedly support this.

Steve Preddy
Co-author, Ornithological Society of the Middle East regional bird list
County Dragonfly Recorder, Monmouthshire

James Emerson Says:

Agreed. James Emerson, Amateur naturalist

Adrian Dutton Says:

Adrian Dutton Entomologist

Peregrine Project Member (Nick M.) Says:

"...should be mandatory and standardised..."

'Mandatory' and enforced by whom? Standardised where, and on what platforms or in what media?

As the co-author of a county Flora, that 'recommendation' has my full support; but as Wikipedia administrator (which has a MOS against capitalisation) it doesn't have it. Asking for caps to be mandatory in every publication seems OTT, that's all.

Unknown Says:

Pondered this one for years and whole-heartedly support your campaign. Monty Larkin - writer, retired conservation advisor and founder of Sussex Pony Grazing & Conservation Trust.

Carey Lodge Says:

Carey Lodge. Amateur recorder.

Suffolk Nature Says:

Agreed. Hawk Honey, Visitor officer Suffolk Wildlife Trust, amateur Hymenopterist.

Dawn Balmer Says:

Dawn Balmer Ornithologist

Mike Hoit Says:

All for it - let there be clarity!
Mike Hoit - Ornithologist & field ecologist

Tim Inskipp Says:

Totally agree. Tim Inskipp, naturalist and author (including All Heaven in a Rage (1975), a report on the international bird trade published by the RSPB, before it became the rspb!

Dawn Nelson Says:

Agree totally, I allways do.

Ali Says:

Yes. Alistair Shuttleworth, amateur naturalist.

Hilary Melton-Butcher Says:

Hi Graeme - yes I'd sign ... I'm a member of the public but completely agree - thank you - please add me in.

All the best to you - Hilary

Richard Goldfinch Says:

Agreed. Richard Goldfinch, amateur naturalist

Jayne Chapman Says:

Agree 100% Jayne Chapman. Estates & Conservation Manager, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

Rebecca Jones Says:

Agreed. Rebecca Jones, marine ornithologist, Natural England

JaySteel Says:

I agree. Jason Steel, amateur wildlife photographer.

Owen Beckett Says:

I've always thought this! I'll happily sign : Owen Beckett, Entomologist

SJBuckton Says:

I agree! Sam Buckton, amateur naturalist and pan-species lister, Yorkshire Plant Gall Recorder (Yorkshire Naturalists Union / British Plant Gall Society)

Sam Stripp Says:

Agreed. Sam Stripp, amateur naturalist

Paul Hopkins Says:

Very much hope this campaign is effective. Paul Hopkins, amateur naturalist

Paul Hopkins Says:

Really hope this campaign is successful. Paul Hopkins, amateur naturalist.

M Lawlor Says:

Of course! Mark Lawlor, Guernsey Bird recorder & general naturalist

Studland Birder Says:

Steve Smith, Dorset Birder

Andy Butler Says:

Fully support this campaign
Andy Butler - Derbyshire birder

Robin Knill-Jones Says:

Fully support the campaign - can we get the teaching profession involved country-wide?

Robin (retired academic and Lepidoptera Recorder (or recorder of Lepidoptera)!

Paul Tinsley-Marshall Says:

Count me in Graeme, Paul Tinsley-Marshall, Conservation Evidence Manager, Kent Wildlife Trust

Ian Hartley Says:

Add me. Ian Hartley, Editor Bird Study (which already does this of course), Senior Lecturer, Lancaster University.

MikeM Says:

Yes - definitely agree. Mike Mullis - naturalist.

Tom Simon Says:

Yep, this really annoys me too.
Tom Simon, Senior Countryside Officer, Epping Forest District Council.

Steph Holt Says:

Totally agree! Steph Holt, Ecologist

Chris Raper Says:

Happy to be added - this has long been a battle between editors who have little idea of how vernaculars are used vs naturalists who do understand. I've been railing against this myself for years and am pleased to say that the UK Species Inventory, which I maintain and which underpins iRecord and the NBN Atlas, capitalises vernaculars. A "common spotted orchid" might well be common and spotted but the name isn't descriptive, it's a name that should have logical rules of presentation just like scientific names do.
Chris Raper, Manager of the UK Species Inventory, The Natural History Museum.

Andy Marquis Says:

Agree. Amateur Entomologist.

David Says:

And there was I, thinking I was ploughing a lone furrow on my blog. Glad to see others are seeing sense.

Unknown Says:

Fully on board with this! Robbie Still, Digital Transformation Officer at Kent Wildlife Trust

Rowena Says:

Good idea. About time!

Tom Gittings Says:

I agree. Ecological Consultant

Tony Perry Says:

Fully agree!

Bob Vaughan Says:

Yes, this should be done ASAP. Hate the current "fashion police" thinking otherwise.

Unknown Says:

Please sign for me Kelly Thomas, Senior Ecologist

Howard Vaughan Says:

Howard Vaughan - all round naturalist. RSPB

Jane Thomas Says:

I agree! It makes things much easier to understand.
Jane Thomas Amateur naturalist

Lee Hurrell Says:

I'm in. I always treat species as proper nouns when writing - looks wrong otherwise. Lee Hurrell, lepidopterist and English teacher.

Tim Jonas Says:

Agree and fully support.
Amateur naturalist and photographer

Downgatebatman Says:

I wrote to the RSPB on this matter in July 2018, but their excuse was "house style". How feeble can you get?

Bob Foreman Says:

This shouldn't be a debate, it is simply a matter of what is correct (Capitalised vernacular names) and what is incorrect (varnacular names all in lower case). And not only that but the capitals have to be in the correct places: Silver-washed Fritillary vs. Bottle-Nosed Dolphin. L-albaum Wainscot vs. V-Pug. All correct - it really does matter!

maryatkinsonwildonline Says:

I fully support your campaign. Mary Atkinson. Field naturalist

Harry Says:

Harry Hussey, Consultant Ornithologist

Sue Loader BSc. Says:

I agree, makes perfect sense. Amateur naturalist and recorder.

Martin Roberts Says:

I fully support this initiative. Amateur naturalist and County Dragonfly Recorder

Unknown Says:

Mark Duffell, botanist (botanical lecturer and surveyor).

Unknown Says:

100% agree
Paul Doherty York birder and producer of wildlife videos

brigit Says:

I agree, and support this campaign!

Brigit Strawbridge - amateur naturalist and author

Shaun Says:

Shaun Pryor, ecological consultant

Anonymous Says:

Yes !

Unknown Says:

Robert Edgar - retired English nature Conservation Officer. Fully agree with this.

Tony Stones Says:

Yes I fully agree with this post.

Ottavio Says:

Fully agree. Ottavio Janni. Birder and translator

Vanna Bartlett Says:

I agree wholeheartedly!

Anonymous Says:

Fully agree. Robin Harris, Amateur Naturalist

Unknown Says:

I agree with you Graeme, it's just common sense

Graeme Lyons Says:

Thanks again everyone, several people (such as the previous two) have signed with no name, please tell me who you are!

Simon Hedges Says:

Support this wholeheartedly, been capitalizing for years. Please add my name: Simon Hedges, Conservationist

John Hancox Says:

Support this. It’s been a bone of contention with me for years.

Andy in Norfolk Says:

Andy Brown, Principal Specialist, Species Conservation

Lee Walther Says:

Lee Walther, National Trust Area Ranger

hkmoths Says:

totally support the clarity given by usage of species vernacular names as proper nouns.
Dr. Roger Kendrick, Director, C & R Wildlife, Hong Kong.
Founder: Asian Lepidoptera Conservation Symposium series.

Chloe Says:

Chloe Edwards, Director of Nature Recovery, Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust

Unknown Says:

Add me to your year list please graeme. John-burnham (did you see what I did there?) Failed Comedian

Nikki Banfield Says:

From here on Buglife will capitalise common species names and whole-heartedly supports Graeme’s call for standardisation and a recognition of the significance of the capital letter; not only to discerning information but to emphasise the importance of our natural world and all the species within it (not just Humans and the things closest to us).

Mariko Says:

I thought I had signed but maybe not yet. Mariko Whyte Conservation Officer, Dorset Wildlife Trust

Twintoo Says:

I may have been doing this for years and will do as Graham suggests. He may remember me from his electro-fishing at Leighton Moss some years ago

Graeme Lyons Says:

Twintoo, I can't see what your name is to put you on the list, or remember you!

Ian Ellis Says:

Agreed. Ian Ellis, Consultant Ecologist

Suzy White Says:

Definitely, count me in! Says:

We certainly agree and this has been our standard for as long as we can remember

Liam Olds Says:

I support this Graeme. Can you add me to the list.

Liam Olds, Entomologist and organiser of the National Oil Beetle Recording Scheme.

Unknown Says:

Totally agree, should never have been messed with.
Stephen Wadsworth
Ornithologist and Naturalist

Unknown Says:

Totaaly agree, capitals are best

Graeme Lyons Says:

Thanks for all the comments, several people have shown their support but have not given your name/full name, so I can't add you to the list! Please add your full name if you can!

Brian Clews Says:

I have been amazed at this confusion for years. I have ALWAYS used capitals for English names of species and will continue to do so. Anyone who would care to join me, feel free!

Alastair Says:

Graeme, commented in other bit as you have seen. Alastair Forsyth, retired (ecology technician, teacher), now amateur entomologist.

Morwenstow Mole Says:

I fully support this approach and promote it in our Lundy Field Society publications. Well done.

Graeme Lyons Says:

Please comment with your full name and an occupation, so I can add you to the list! Many thanks. Graeme.

starnosedmole Says:

I agree. I hadn't realised that standards had been slipping. My occupation is not relevant but I am an amateur enthusiast regarding nature and incidentally love the Latin names. Alison Cobbing.

Toby Collett Says:

For the list Graeme. Toby Collett - Warden

Libbyralph Says:

Really useful campaign. Submitted an article to our local paper this week, capitalised everything and explained about the campaign. Head journalist acknowedged the push and said he'd raise it with the editors - but every capital was edited out when published.

Anne Donnelly Says:

Anne Donnelly, Data Officer @ ERIC NE.

It hurts my eyes when wildlife publications don't capitlise properly. Not quite as painful as misplaced apostrophes though.

Talya Says:

I agree. No other logical way to do it. Shouldn't even be any need for discussion, it's just best practice.

Anonymous Says:

I always regard *not* using capitals as ignorant & poor grammar: I had no idea it was a 'thing'! Absolutely essential that proper names are used, properly, with capitals. With you 100%.

Nigel Says:

Happy to add my name. There is too much sloppiness in scientific writing these days.
Nigel Jennings
Volunteer Group Leader, Kent Wildlife Trust

Nigel Says:

Happy to add my name. There is too much sloppiness in scientific writing these days.
Nigel Jennings
Volunteer Group Leader, Kent Wildlife Trust

Derek Crawley Says:

In full agreement with this capitalization/hyphenation campaign.

Anonymous Says:

This, and the previous post, are an interesting topic. I have been interested in wildlife for many years and record sightings etc, but I've not had much call to write about species until recently. I am now an Apprentice with Cornwall Wildlife Trust and have assignments to write and have noticed the inconsistencies of what is capitalised and/or hyphenated. As such I am struggling a little to correctly capitalise this sentence in my current assignment: “Wood Mice are an important food source for Tawny Owls and will also be preyed on by other animals including foxes, badgers, cats and weasels.” Should I capitalise Badgers and Weasels as they are species names? I’m not sure about foxes, as the species is Red Fox, so fox isn’t specific, yet it’s the only species of fox in the UK, so should it still be capitalised? Cats is another one, it’s not a specific species (although all domestic cats are the same one species despite being called different breeds).

I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Also, in a related vein. I know Cow Parsley as Keck, would that be capitalised as a regional name rather than an 'official' one?

Laura Hackett (and I am happy to go onto the list in favour of capitals, too)

Anonymous Says:

Happy to add my name. Keiron Derek Brown,National Recorder for Earthworms

welchs Says:

Stephen Welch, Lothian SOC bird recorder

Anonymous Says:

Yes please - Lindsay Morris amateur naturalist

Tony Bennion Says:

I hav been introduced to this site by a friend...
I've been using capital letters for the Animal,Plant and all Kingdoms for years....l'm very happy to add my name to this campaign..Much in the Human attitude needs change!happy to vhappy

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