Hi Jade Squirrel, and welcome to Wikipedia. It's a great place and I'm sure you'll enjoy it here.
You'll find several discussions of the naming conventions for animals around the place, but (for complicated reasons I won't go into) there isn't a naming conventions page that sets them out yet. Sorry abut that. The heat has gone out of the debate now, and the compromise that was hammered out is working well, so I'll see if I can attend to that over the next few days. But in the meantime, you will find the essentials at Wikipedia:WikiProject Birds. That's bird-specific, but the same rules apply to mammals.
(In my opinion, they should apply across the board and be used for all groups of species for which there are normally common names (reptiles, fish, plants, and so on) but they don't at present, and probably won't for some time, if ever. So we just have to live with that.)
The rules for naming species are fairly smple and that link above should be all you need, but for your convenience, here is the executive summary:
The name of a species is always capitalised. This signals to the reader that we are indicating a particular, exact species. The phrase "in Australia there are many Common Starlings" indicates a large number of Sturnus vulgaris. In contrast, the phrase "in Australia there are many common starlings" indicates several different types of starling.
- The name of a particular species is always captialised: Black Rat, Metallic Starling, Ostrich, Western Marsh Harrier.
- The name of a group of species in not capitalised: thrush family, kingfishers, turtle doves, marsh harriers.
- The hyphenated part of a species name is usually not capitalised: Red-winged Blackbird, Black-faced Butcherbird, Splendid Fairy-wren.
- Alternative names should be mentioned where appropriate; with bold type in the opening line of the entry if they are in wide use, elsewhere in the article (with or without the bold type) if they are less-used. This is usually a matter for individual judgement.
- Orders, families and other taxa above genus level are written with an initial capital and in roman (not italic) text: bats belong to the class Chiroptera; rats and mice are members of the family Muridae and the order Rodentia.
- The names of genera are always italicised and capitalised: Turdus, Falco, Anas.
- Species names are never capitalised, always italicised, and always preceeded by either the genus name or an abbreviation of it: Alcedo pusilla or A. pusilla, Cisticola juncidis or C. juncidis.
When you create a new entry for a species, make sure it is correctly capitalised and always create a redirect in the lower-case form. For example, name the entry Bald Eagle but create a redirect to it from bald eagle.
Note that capitalisation for species applies to articles about fauna, not to the whole encyclopedia. We do not have the right to insist that contributors who specialise in any of the many other areas covered in the 'pedia (politics, music, sport, and so on) learn about or conform to the conventions of ornithology. If someone writing an entry on a baseball team called the "Christchurch King Penguins" wants to make an in-text link to king penguin then they should be able to do so without having to worry about the details of species capitalisation rules. It is your responsibility to make the lower-case redirect.
That's about all there is to it. See you around and happy editing! Tannin 01:53 1 Jun 2003 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying that, Tannin. Although I personally do not agree with this naming convention, I will edit according to what you have said to ensure consistency. (-: Jade Squirrel
I have nominated Cigarro & Cerveja, an article you created, for deletion. I do not feel that this article satisfies Wikipedia's criteria for inclusion, and have explained why at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Cigarro & Cerveja. Your opinions on the matter are welcome at that same discussion page; also, you are welcome to edit the article to address these concerns. Thank you for your time. szyslak 05:43, 16 January 2008 (UTC)