The National Trout Center uses FishBase, a global compendium of biodiversity information on more than 32,000 species of fish, for authoritative information on the taxonomy, biology and ecology of species in the salmonid family, as well as other fishes that occur in environments inhabited by salmonids.
The naming of fishes and all other organisms known as animals is governed by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. This code specifies how names are established and which name must be used (in scientific discourse) in case of name conflicts. The Code determines what names are valid for any taxon in the family, genus, and species groups.
Taxonomy of the Salmonidae
The Latin name of the family is Salmonidae, with a “-dae” suffix denoting the “family” taxonomic level. The anglicized name is “salmonid”, refering to the salmon family within the larger taxonomic order, “Salmoniformes”. Included are three sub-families, Salmoninae, Coregoninae, and Thymallinae, bearing the sub-family suffix “-nae” and denoted with the vernacular names[link to: “Vernacular Names” file] salmon (and trout), whitefishes, and grayling. Sub-families are usually designations that collect together closely related species, a practice important in systematics and taxonomy, but only infrequently carried over into the jargon of the general public. Genus (plural “genera”), the next grouping of species below the sub-family level designates a taxonomic platform suitable for assigning Linnaean Latin binomial names to individual species.
The species designation is the fundamental unit of classification that has served the biological sciences since Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus published Systema Naturae in the middle of the 18th century. The structure of the name in print is genus, always capitalized, followed by the “specific epithet”, always lower case and never capitalized. The two-part name for a particular species is called its “binomial” and it is usually italicized (or underlined) in printed media. Each of the two parts of the name may carry additional meaning peculiar to the life history of the named animal. Thus, for the brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, the genus identifies the fish with the old name for char, based on the root of the German “saibling” meaning little salmon. The specific epithet, means living in springs.
FishBase recognizes 11 genera and 228 species world-wide in the family Salmonidae. All salmonids are native to the northern hemisphere, but widely planted in suitable habitat in the southern hemisphere. In the sub-family Salmoninae (trout and salmon) the best-known genera are Salmo, Oncorhynchus, Salvelinus, and Hucho. The Coregonines (whitefish) include the genera Coregonus, Prosopium and Stenodus, and the Thymallinae (graylings) are represented by two species in the genus Thymallus.