Often when reading about different species of fauna, whether they are insects, reptiles, mammals etc, the description used may have you reaching for the dictionary…or googling the word.

Let us start with the word Fauna

  • Fauna is all of the animal life present in a particular region or time.
    The corresponding term for plants is flora.

Fauna derives from the from Latin Fauna, which is the name of a Roman fertility goddess, who was the wife, sister or daughter of Faunus.

Fauna together with the term flora (to describe plant life etc) and other forms of life such as fungi, they are collectively referred to as biota.

Whilst the noun fauna can be singular, the commonly used context in the plural form is faunas (as in floras and faunas), although florae and faunae is also correct.

Following is our glossary of words/terms with their meaning. This glossary if fluid and will grow over time. If the word is not listed here, a quick google will certainly give you more information on their meanings.

Glossary
  • barbule
    the barbules are “mini-barbs” that grow from the central shaft of each barb. The barbs growing from the central spine known as the rachis.

  • dimorphic
    used as an adjective in biology, the word dimorphic describes, occurring in or representing two distinct forms. Sexual dimorphism is the condition where the two sexes of the same species exhibit different characteristics beyond the differences in their sexual organs.

  • eusocial
    describes creatures that live in a cooperative group, usually there being only one female, several males (who may be reproductively active) and non-breeding individuals. There is an overlap of generations within the colony of adults, as well as a division of labour. This division of labour that can be described as ‘castes’, creates specialised roles for individuals, such that often one caste loses the ability to perform behaviour characteristic of individuals from another caste eg reproductive and non-reproductive groups. Some examples of creatures that fall under this description are termites, ants and some wasps.

    Eusocial behaviour is considered an advanced social behaviour that entails nest / colony sharing with a division of labour that often entails a caste system with sterile workers who care for the offspring of the reproductive caste. This entails the overlapping of generations with offspring assisting the parents.

  • fimbria
    from the Latin fimbriae (plural) meaning border, fringe. Used in botany and zoology to describe a fringe or fringed border.

  • frons
    pertaining to the forehead, the word is Latin “frons” meaning the forehead or brow. In birds describes the forehead or feathered front of the crown, just above the upper bill base. Often used to describe the different colours found in some birds such as the Re-capped Robin and the Common Bronzewing.


  • ootheca
    is a type of egg mass made by a variety of species including mantises and cockroaches.

    comes from the Latin combination of oo-, meaning “egg”, from the Greek word ōon (cf. Latin ovum), and theca meaning a “cover” or “container” (from the Greek theke. Ootheke is Greek for ovary.)

  • quartering
    this is a hunting technique where a bird does a slow flight just above the water or ground in open habitats, in search of food.

  • nominate race
    when a species has several subspecies (races), the nominate subspecies is the one that was first described as the species itself.

  • paraphyletic / paraphyletic group
    is used to describe a group of organisms that are descended from a common evolutionary ancestor or ancestral group, but does not include all the descendant groups.

    Another way to look at a paraphyletic group is that it includes a single ancestor and some of its descendants (ie some descendants are excluded).

  • pygidial
    a reference to the area, which is called the “pygidium”. It is from the Latin pyga, meaning rump, and simply means the bit at the end of the bum.

    The pygidium (plural pygidia) is the posterior body part, the terminal part or hind segment of the body in certain invertebrates such as crustaceans and some other arthropods, such as insects and the extinct trilobites. It contains the anus and, in females, the ovipositor. It is composed of fused body segments, sometimes with a tail, and separated from thoracic segments by an articulation.

    When talking about the anatomy of the bee
    pre-pygidial is the area “before”.
    The pygidium is end of bum; pre pygidial means “before end of bum”.
    The fimbriae is the dense long hairs on the last section of the metasoma).
    Dense long hairs are “pre pygidial fimbriae“.

  • primary feathers
    these are the bird’s outer flight feathers, known as the “fingertip” feathers, the longest feathrs on a bird’s wing, being the farthest away from the bird’s body when the wings are extended. These feathers are attached to the bones of the bird’s wing referred to as the “hand”.

  • sp and spp
    sp.” is the abbreviation for “species”. It is used when the actual specific name cannot or need not be specified.

    spp.” is the plura abbreviation to indicate that there are “several species”

    As an example:
    Canis sp.” means that there is an unspecified species of the genus Canis.
    Canis spp.” means that there are two or more species of the genus Canis.

  • supercilium
    a feature found on some species of birds, is a stripe found on the head that runs from the base of the bird’s beak, above its eye, finishing towards the back of the bird’s head.

  • synonym
    a synonym is a word or phrase that has the same meaning as another word or phrase (in the same language). The use of “Synonyms” in taxonomy are similar to normal synonyms, used in scientific classification when there are two or more names for the same thing.

    In botany, the word “synonym” has a special meaning. There is one “correct name”, and the other names are synonyms. For example, Daemonorops draco is the correct name of a species of palm trees, and Calamus draco is a synonym for the same species.

    In zoology, there is one “valid name” and the others are “junior synonyms”.

    The Botanical and Zoological Codes of nomenclature treat the concept of synonymy differently. See the Wikipedia page Synonym (taxonomy) for more detailed explanation on the meaning.

  • vagrant bird
    these are birds that are found outside of their normal range. Vagrancy, vagrants or accidentals (as they are known) have often been used to describe birds that have been blown off course during their migration, even birds that have a faulty internal GPS.