About the Codes
What do the codes mean?
Not much. Our lab deals mainly with morphospecies, such that we don't necessarily know the scientific names of the organisms. It is most important for us to know that we have two different species than to know their actual species name. The code has no relation to the classification of the organism and similar codes do not imply similar specimens. That's all you really need to know. If, however, you are interested in the minutiae of our naming system, keep reading.
For the most part, the library was assembled in the order in which we encountered new species. We may, for example, find a new collembola and a new oribatid in the same sample. These would be given consecutive code names, even though they are not related to each other. The physical type specimens for the library are stored in cell well trays, with each tray having six rows and four columns each, or 24 wells. The code names reflect these positions. In Diane's library, the rows are given letter designations, and the columns are numbered. The species in the top row of the tray are all "A", followed by a number 1-6, to reflect their position. The next row is B1-B6, then C1-C6 and so on. When we hit "Z", we went to "AA", then when we got to "AZ", we went to "BA".
Brian and Ranelle's library follows the same naming procedure, except the position of the letter and the number in the code name is reversed. So instead of A1, A2, A3… we have 1A, 2A, 3A... through to 6A. The next row is 1B, 2B, 3B… etc.
Brian's library numbers the rows and gives letters to the columns. To avoid confusion with Brian and Ranelle's library, where codes start with the numbers 1-6, the numbering system starts with 7. So the first row is 7A-7F, the next 8A-8F, and so on.
Katsky's library gives letter names to species as they are found, irrespective of their place in the trays: A-Z for the first 26 species, then AA, AB, AC... to BA, BB, BC... and so on.
Genn, Youhua and Jiichiro's library used two-letter-with-one-number codes that started with the letter X. Their codes run from XA1,XA2..XB1..though XH6. Genn's library followed the same naming scheme as the experiment with Youhua and Jiichiro but all codes started with the letter Z. Youhua'a library followed a similar naming scheme, with codes starting with the letter Y.
Why are there seven different libraries?
Each library reflects a different set of experiments in different physical locations. Diane's library was the first one assembled, and contains most of the species. In subsequent libraries, only unique species were to be recorded. If you are sorting samples from one of the known localities, you can usually find most of the species in Diane's library, plus the one specific to your location, thus reducing the total number of species one has to look through to find a match.
Why are some codes "nil", and why do some refer to other species?
In some cases, type specimens from the cell wells are missing. In the course of daily use, specimens may be taken out of their cell well to be compared with an unknown species. When working with organisms a few hundred micrometers in size, losing a specimen is not difficult. Missing species are marked "nil" or "not in library".
The libraries were assembled by different people over a wide span of time. Sometimes, a specimen being sorted was not recognized as already existing in the library, and so it was added as if it were new. This leads to incidences where the same morphospecies has multiple names. Also, we are sometimes able to determine that two dissimilar morphospecies are actually different developmental stages of the same species. Both events result in a single species having more than one code name. The most familiar or earliest name is given preference, and the others become obsolete. You can find these obsolete names in the "Notes" section of the current species page. The obsolete codes in the code list then refer to the current code name in use.
The opposite scenario also occurs, when a designated species is found to contain more than one distinct species. In this event, a lower case suffix is added to the code, as in the example of I4a and I4b, making two distinct morphospecies.