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_EEB 5347: Principles and Methods of Systematic Biology — Search Essentials for Zoological Record

Taxonomic Searching in the Zoological Record Database

Zoological Record is the most comprehensive location for zoological literature and an excellent source for taxonomic searching.

Navigating the terminology

As with most literature databases, a ZR record is composed of fields. All taxonomic terms are located in the Descriptor field, so that is the field to search for taxonomic topics. ZR contains an extensive vocabulary for searching.

Highlight the “subject descriptor” drop-down option to the right of a search box and then click on "select from thesaurus" to the right of that. This brings up five indexes for ZR. Two are valuable specifically for taxonomic searching (systematic and subject.) To expand any index term to see more specific terms click on the + to the left of the term.

The Systematic Index offers a detailed systematic hierarchy of taxonomic ranks. You can use this hierarchy to discover appropriate taxa or you can just enter names of taxa in the search blank.

For a complete listing of nomenclature terms expand the Subject Index, then Systematics, then Nomenclature.

  • Terms for discovering first reporting of taxa are located under New Taxa
  • Each term carries a T to the right; clicking on this offers a scope or explanatory note, often with a definition, broader and narrower terms and related terms
  • Many terms are time delineated, used only during certain time periods. You may need to use more than one term for thorough searching of a concept
  • You can search specifically for diagnoses, descriptions, combinations, homonyms and synonyms

Searching Techniques

To include a term in a search either click the “add” button and it will appear in a search blank at the bottom of the screen (you can add multiple terms to a search this way) OR return to the main search page and simply type in the word as a subject descriptor.

Be careful how you combine terms with AND and OR – generally AND between main topics and OR between synonyms or optional additions.

Other Indexes

Four other indexes also options:

  • There are geographical and paleontological indexes available in the Subject Descriptor section 
  • An author index is available by clicking on the magnifying glass when the field Author is selected on the main search page
  • journal name index is available by clicking on the magnifying glass when the field Publication Name is selected on the main search page. There are two search possibilities; the first option searches journal names alphabetically starting with the term you type in. The second finds names (full or abbreviated) which include whatever term you type