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Instructions to authors

PURPOSEMammalian Species is intended to provide accurate, concise, peer-reviewed summaries of the present state of biological knowledge of species of mammals in a standard format that allows easy reference to specific information.  Accounts present specific information or useful summaries, rather than merely citing sources of information or presenting lengthy lists of information without synthesis. 

Original skull measurements may be published in Mammalian Species, even to supplement published information, but other original observations cannot be presented because the format of accounts does not allow for adequate documentation of methodology or explanation of new ideas.  Authors are expected to review ALL literature on a species although they need not cite every such source; if not discussed, do not include that paper in the citations.  For species with extensive published material, cite recent articles that refer to older articles on the same topic.

If you are interested in publishing a Mammalian Species account, contact the Mammalian Species Editor to reserve your target species.  Such reservations are valid for two years with the option of a one year extension.

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS.  Manuscripts, including Literature Cited, generally should be no longer than 50 double-spaced pages [Times Roman 12 point].  All accounts include 3 basic images (1 of the mammal, the skull/mandible plate [Appendix 1], and a distribution map); 2–3 additional images depicting, for example, behavior and habitat, and short audio and video clips, will be considered in the peer review process.  Consult with the Editor before submitting longer manuscripts.  Mammalian Species accounts NEVER include tables.

General Format

  • Except for contact information for the corresponding author on the 1st page, the entire copy must be double-spaced (no triple spacing) throughout, including LITERATURE CITED.
  • Manuscripts must be submitted in Word; use Times Roman 12-point type size.
  • Leave 2.5-cm (1 inch) margins on all sides; do not justify the right margin, do not hyphenate words at the right margin, and do not use single-sentence paragraphs.


  • Examine recent accounts for specific examples of content and format, which changed in 2008. 
  • Keep the mammal, not the authors of research papers, as the subject of sentences when possible.
  • Use American English; spelling conventions, but use exact spelling of titles and journal names in the LITERATURE CITED.
  • The Mammalian Species standard for style is the CSE style manual (Scientific style and format: the CSE manual for authors, editors, and publishers. 8th ed. Council of Science Editors, University of Chicago Press).
  • Italicize only scientific names, statistical parameters (n, SD, SE), and foreign words; do not use bold or underlining.
  • Abbreviate the genus name except on 1st usage within a section or subsection and at the start of a paragraph.
  • Use spaces around operators for statistics e.g., n = 62.
  • Use the metric system throughout, except in type localities and elevation in synonymies in which English units were used in the original. When converting to metric units, round the converted figures to an appropriate degree of precision (i.e., a nest diameter of 10–12 inches converts to 25–30 cm, not 25.4–30.48 cm, but 3 1/32 inch would equal 7.7 mm).
  • Use hanging indents for the synonymy and literature cited, and a single tab (0.5 inches) for paragraph indentation. 
  • Use an en-dash (found in Symbol section of Word) to separate ranges e.g., 4–6, October–December. Otherwise write as from 4 to 6, from October to December.
  • Consult Information for Contributors available at the ASM website for formatting questions not addressed in this document. For abbreviations not presented in the ASM Guidelines, follow the International System of Units (SI; National Bureau of Standards Special Publication, United States Department of Commerce).
  • References in text are to be in chronological order with semicolons separating citations.  Do not put a comma between the author and year (except in the synonymy or when indicating taxonomic authority elsewhere) and do not italicize “a” or “b” for citations with the same authors and year (e.g., Hamilton 1987, 1988; Hamilton et al. 1994; McBee 1996a, 1996b; Hamilton and Van Den Bussche 1998).  Do not place 2 parenthetical comments next to each other.  Instead combine them and separate the material with an em-dash (e.g., parenthetical information—Author 2002).

Section Format

Please follow the specific format in published accounts published beginning 2008.  Format the 1st page of the manuscript as indicated in Appendix 2.


Title.Always “Genus species (Order: Family)”


Name and byline.—Follow example in Appendix 2.  Note the convention for providing present addresses.


Abstract.—The abstract can be no longer than 125 words and is a concise 4–5 sentence summary of the account.  The 1st sentence should always begin “[Genus-species name Authority, Date] is a [caprid] commonly called the [black goat].”  Subsequent sentences must contain and be ordered as follows: general physical, and perhaps unique, characteristics and “is 1 of [how many] species in the genus [Name]”; statement on general distribution; statement on general habitat preferences; and statement on current conservation status.  An example follows:

          Abstract.—Boselaphus tragocamelus (Pallas, 1766) is a bovid commonly called the nilgai or blue bull and is Asia’s largest antelope.  A sexually dimorphic ungulate of large stature and unique coloration, it is the only species in the genus Boselaphus.   It is endemic to peninsular India and small parts of Pakistan and Nepal, has been extirpated from Bangladesh, and has been introduced in the United States (Texas), Mexico, and South Africa.  It prefers open grassland and savannas and locally is a significant agricultural pest in India.  It is not of special conservation concern and is well-represented in zoos and private collections throughout the world.

Key words.—Provide up to 8 key words that are not in the title and be sure to include the common name from Wilson and Reeder’s Mammal Species of the World (2005, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore) and others in common use, if available.


Synonymies trace the nomenclatural history of a species name from its original designation through any subsequent name changes and combinations, whether by design or error.  Authors have 2 choices when preparing a synonymy.  In either case, include references for all taxonomic authorities (= classifiers) that are part of the full scientific name; e.g., Boselaphus tragocamelus de Blainville, 1816.

PLEASE NOTE: When including type localities within the synonymy, you must present, in quotes, the exact locality given in the original description.  Do not use quotation marks around a translation, transliteration, or any other modification of the type locality.  Also do not use quotation marks around any words that were not part of the original statement unless you enclose these words in brackets.  See A Guide to Constructing and Understanding Synonymies for Mammalian Species (Gardner and Hayssen, Mammalian Species 739:1–17, 2004) for examples of type localities.

1. Prepare a complete species synonymy, as has been the custom in earlier Mammalian Species accounts, following Gardner and Hayssen (2004, Mammalian Species 739:1–17).  This approach provides a complete record of a species’ nomenclatural placement through time and is particularly useful for those species whose scientific names have undergone frequent and recent changes.  Complete species synonymies can be challenging to construct, and some authors may wish to involve a colleague with nomenclatorial expertise and access to old, and often rare, literature through museum-based comprehensive libraries; such involvement may merit authorship, which should be discussed candidly early in the process.  All entries must be in chronological order and must include authority, date, page reference, appropriate descriptor, and complete citation in the Literature Cited Section.  Add “Synonymy (or Synonymies) completed Day Month Year” at the appropriate place after abstract.  NOTE: A generic synonymy for the species account under preparation will be requested by the Editor if a synonymy of the genus has not been published already in a Mammalian Species account.  Along with the generic synonymy you may be asked to prepare a key to the species if there are 3 or more species recognized in the genus.  Literature Cited section should contain all references cited in the text and the references for all taxonomic authorities (= classifiers) that are part of the full scientific name; e.g., Boselaphus tragocamelus de Blainville, 1816

2. Prepare a simplified species synonymy, following the standard format, punctuation, and content outlined in Gardner and Hayssen (2004, Mammalian Species 739:1–17) and using Wilson and Reeder’s Mammal Species of the World (2005, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore) as a minimum starting point.  For this approach, authors must include: 1) original usage of the primary (= currently used name) species-level name, 2) every unique species-level synonym attributable to the primary species-level name, and 3) name combinations (generic changes, demotion to subspecies, etc.) through which only the primary species name (not every synonym) has traveled. All entries must be in chronological order and must include authority, date, page reference, appropriate descriptor, and complete citation in the Literature Cited Section. NOTE: A generic synonymy for the species account under preparation will be requested by the Editor if a synonymy of the genus has not been published already in a Mammalian Species account.

Context and Content.  Immediately after the synonymy(ies), provide the order, suborder, family, subfamily, and tribe.  Please follow taxonomy as presented in Wilson and Reeder—Mammal Species of the World, 3rd ed. or in Handbook of the Mammals of the World for taxa (carnivores, primates, marine, and hoofed mammals) that have been covered by that series.  If you do not have access to these volumes the Editor can help you determine the correct taxonomy.  Note whether or not the genus and species are monotypic; if not, explain.  See recently published accounts for examples.

Nomenclatural Notes.  Include this subsection only after the species’ “Context and Content” if matters of nomenclature or nomenclatural history are unclear in the synonymy and need further explanation.  Include “(see Nomenclatural Notes)” at the end of each entry in the synonymy that will be discussed in this subsection.  The following could be included: variations in the vernacular name, etymological origin of the generic and specific names, discussions of Opinions and rulings from the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, and common names by language or country of origin.


This section should provide readers only with information necessary to distinguish the species being discussed from similar or closely related taxa.  Characters that singly or collectively distinguish the taxon from other taxa should be presented in a comparative manner.  Comparisons should be quantitative and meaningful alone (e.g., “length of maxillary toothrow at alveolar rim > 15 mm”) rather than comparative (e.g., “teeth larger”).  Generic or familial characters should not be included in a species diagnosis, except when the genus is monotypic and comparisons are being made between genera.

General Characters

This section contains characters not strictly diagnostic.  A general description in objective and quantitative terms should be included here.  Information on color, external (length of head and body, length of tail, length of hind foot, length of ear) and cranial measurements (Fig. 2 of skull images is typically 1st referenced in this section), and sexual and age differences should be included.  When presenting quantitative data, do not use contrived acronyms.  See previous accounts for presentation of measurements for different groups (subspecies, sexes, geographic regions).  Detailed descriptions and illustrations in the literature may be cited. 


State the geographic range in general terms.  Refer to the figure illustrating the distribution and cite authorities on which the map is based (map must indicate latitude and longitude).  A concise statement of elevational or other distributional features or limitations is desired.  The historic range in addition to reductions, expansions, or introductions is relevant.  A map of the distribution should include subspecies boundaries.  Do not include information on habitat, which should be placed in the ECOLOGY section.

Fossil Record

Summarize data on fossil record of the taxon.  Indicate time (age), space (place), and other noteworthy information.  Present dates as “years ago,” rather than using abbreviations, such as, “mya” or “B.P.” If no fossil record is known, include as the last statement of the DISTRIBUTION section the sentence “No fossils are known.”  A useful starting place is:  http://www.bfvol.org.

Form and Function

Separate into 2 subsections, with the exact headings below if length dictates (i.e., if each section contains ≥ 2 paragraphs).

            Form.—Summarize structural or anatomical features of the taxon, if known, from molecular or biochemical through histological to gross anatomy (cite authorities), such as integument and derivatives, mammae and milk, skeletal system (including dentition), muscular system, circulatory system, nervous system (from central to peripheral), respiratory system, digestive system, urogenital system, endocrine system, and general anatomy that transcends separate systems.  Dental formula should take the form of: i 1/1, c 0/0, p 1/0, m 3/3, total 18.  Make sure the total is correct.  Teeth should be referred to by a letter followed by a number, uppercase letters for upper teeth (e.g., M2, P4) and lowercase letters for mandibular teeth (e.g., m2, m1–3).  Do not use superscripted or subscripted numbers to designate upper and lower teeth.  Vertebral formula should take the form of: 7 C, 13 T, 6 L, 2–3 S, and 26–31 Ca, total 55–60.

            Function.Summarize physiological or other dynamic aspects of function here such as metabolic rate, thermoregulation, water balance, energy balance, circannual cycles, hormonal cycles, and cardio-vascular, respiratory, reproductive, neuroendocrine, digestive, vision, echolocation, and renal aspects. 

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Separate into 2 subsections, with the exact headings below if length dictates (i.e., if each section contains ≥ 2 paragraphs).

            Ontogeny.The following aspects should be arranged in a logical and orderly fashion: in utero and postpartum growth and development, description of neonate, postnatal or prepuberal changes, nursing, weaning, reproductive maturity. 

            Reproduction.—Include aspects of reproductive physiology and cycles, estrous cycles, spermatogenesis, conception and implantation, pregnancy, gestation, parturition, litter size in utero to weaning, lactation duration, breeding season (time and length).


Information on relationships of the animal to its environment belongs here.  Separate into 6 subsections, with the exact headings and arrangement below, if length dictates (i.e., if each section contains ≥ 2 paragraphs).  You may include < 6 subsections (or none at all) depending on availability of published information; topics listed after each subsection heading below are illustrative and not meant to be inclusive or exclusive.

            Population characteristics.—densities, survival and mortality, demography, longevity, sex ratios, fertility, dispersal.

            Space use.—habitat use, home range, movement, migration, specialized habitat use (e.g., nesting places, burrows), spatial and landscape relations.

            Diet.—food and water use, foraging strategies.

            Diseases and parasites.—diseases, ecto- and endoparasites, illness, disease transmission, human interactions.

            Interspecific interactions.—competition, predation, predator avoidance, community ecology, unique symbioses.

            Miscellaneous.—unique methods of capture, marking, tracking, recording, censusing, sampling, or collecting; domestication, or breeding in captivity; pharmaceutical or medical uses; other economics .


If information is sufficient, provide a stand-alone section on husbandry with those elements listed immediately above under “Miscellaneous,” such as capture, handling, captivity, captive breeding, and feeding and cage requirements.


If information is sufficient, behavior of the species belongs here.  Separate into 4 subsections, with the exact headings and arrangement below, if length dictates (i.e., if each section contains ≥ 2 paragraphs).  You may include < 4 of the subsections (or none at all) depending on availability of published information; topics listed after each subsection heading below are illustrative and not meant to be inclusive or exclusive.

            Grouping behavior.—sociality, group dynamics, territoriality, fighting, dominance, play, intraspecific interactions (cooperative or agonistic)

            Reproductive behavior.—breeding systems, courtship, mating, parturition, parental care, neonatal behavior

            Communication.—vocalizations, descriptions of sonographs, scent marking, latrine use

            Miscellaneous behavior.—activity patterns, hibernation, aestivation, grooming, foraging, hunting, interspecific associations, unique methods of study

The sections on ONTOGENY AND REPRODUCTION, ECOLOGY, and BEHAVIOR may be combined under the heading ECOLOGY if limited information is available and if the subjects seem more easily handled together.


Information on heredity and interactions between heredity and the environment belong here.  Separate into 3 sections, with the exact subheadings and arrangement below, if length dictates (i.e., if each section contains ≥ 2 paragraphs).   

            Cytogenetics.—karotypic, chromosomes, anomalies

            Molecular.—DNA, allelic systems, anomalies

            Population genetics.—structure, conservation, genotypic and phenotypic expressions, hybridization


If the species is of “Special Concern,” indicate its status in this section.  Published assessments of the status of the species (e.g., Rare, Endangered, Threatened, Status Undetermined) should be presented.  Likely publication sources will include state, national, or international governmental agencies or recognized non-governmental organizations (e.g., International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, World Conservation Union, World Wildlife Fund).  This section also can include population and habitat management, contaminant issues, economic impacts, and other human interactions (positive and negative).


Include any information that does not fit into the previously discussed sections.  Significant differences of opinion in the published literature on any aspect of the account that deserves more detailed discussion may be included here.


Acknowledgments are now provided in a stand-alone section.

Literature Cited

Consult Information for Contributors to JM at the ASM website regarding format and order of citations.  Final and job completion reports, unpublished manuscripts, and in-house agency reports are not considered peer-reviewed serial publications and cannot be cited.  Theses and dissertations may be cited.  In rare instances, despite your extensive efforts, a publication cannot be found and needs to be cited in the text from a secondary source; follow this format “(Desmarest 1816 not seen, cited in [your bibliographic source, including page number]).”  Make sure that both sources are cited in the LITERATURE CITED.  Small amounts of unpublished material may be included in text as either (pers. comm.) for information obtained orally or (in litt.) for information obtained in writing (e.g., letter, unpublished manuscript, internal agency report).

  • Order references strictly alphabetically by author (do not group by number of authors and then alphabetize).  Do not use “ibid” or a “long dash” (e.g., em-dash) for repetition of authors.
  • For articles in a book, do not put a comma after Pp. xx–xx and do not italicize “in.”
  • No comma between journal title and volume. Spell out all journal titles.
  • Total pagination for books and theses is not needed; if the work is part of a series indicate the volume or part number after the title.
  • Use an en-dash to separate page ranges; e.g., Journal of Mammalogy 23:11–26.
  • For all books not published in the United States, indicate city and country of publication. For all books published in the United States, indicate city and full name of state of publication (do not abbreviate).
  • Italicize all genus and species names regardless of whether they were italicized in the original title of the citation.

After the Literature Cited, include the following (the Editor will complete this before publication

Associate Editors were ___.  ____ and ____ reviewed the synonymy[ies]. Editor was ___.


At a minimum, 3 figures must be included in Mammalian Species accounts: a photograph of a live animal (or a good quality illustration or image of a prepared specimen, in that order of declining acceptability), a skull plate, and a distribution map.  A picture of the animal is the 1st figure referred to in the text, the skull plate is the 2nd figure, and the distribution map is the 3rd figure.  Up to 3 additional color images can be submitted depicting behavior, ecology, habitat, etc.; they will be included if deemed useful during peer review.  All figures will be published 1 column (8 cm) in width, so prepare them accordingly.  All image files (.jpg, .tif are best) should be 300 dpi preferred (600 dpi preferred).

PHOTOGRAPH OF LIVE ANIMAL.  The figure caption must include the name of taxon, where and when animal was photographed, the age and sex of animal, the name of photographer, and a statement of permission for use of the photograph if taken by someone other than one of the authors of the account.

SKULL PLATE.  Illustrations of the skull (dorsal, ventral, and lateral views) and lateral view of the mandible must be included.  These either can be good quality images or line drawings.  Do not include a scale bar.  In the figure legend, indicate age and sex of specimen, the collection locality, full name of museum where specimen is on deposit, catalog number of specimen, and greatest length of skull or a similar measure.  A statement including the origin of the photographs or name of illustrator (if other than the authors) and permission for use must be included.  All views must be exactly to the same scale.  Guidelines for making the digital skull plate are in Appendix 1.

DISTRIBUTION MAP.  Carefully indicate on a sufficiently detailed map, the distribution of the taxon.  Be sure the distribution corresponds to the description in text.  Differentiate subspecies in some convenient manner, numbering them on the map.  List subspecies alphabetically in the figure legend and indicate their numbers.  Type localities and fossil sites may be included.  Consult previous accounts for general style and format.  Cite authorities in figure caption to document distribution of the taxon.  Changes in geographic range during historic times may be shown and must be documented. 

The distribution map must include a border, both latitude and longitude, and a scale bar in kilometers (km) .  The meridian in the center of the map should be vertical.  If the map represents a limited (i.e., small portion of a continent) geographic range, use an insert of a larger scale map to illustrate where in the world the map represents.  Be sure that width of lines and shading used to demarcate distributions of subspecies will be clear when reduced to 8-cm width (3.125 in) in publication.  Reduce the map yourself and carefully examine it for clarity before submission of the manuscript.

THIRD-PARTY CONTENT IN OPEN ACCESS PAPERS. If you will be publishing your paper under an Open Access licence but it contains material for which you do not have Open Access re-use permissions, please state this clearly by supplying the following credit line alongside the material:

             Title of content

Author, original publication, year of original publication, by permission of [rights holder]

This image/content is not covered by the terms of the Creative Commons licence of this publication. For permission to reuse, please contact the rights holder.

Sample Figure Captions (please use this format)

Fig. 1.  An adult female Phenacomys albipes from 1 mile S Summit, Benton Co., Oregon (KU [University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History] 145695).  Used with permission of the photographer B. J. Verts.

Fig. 2.  Dorsal, ventral, and lateral views of skull and lateral view of mandible of an adult male Phenacomys albipes (OSUFW [Oregon State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife mammal collection] 7360) from 6 miles W Blue River, T16S, R3E, Sec. 22, Lane Co., Oregon.  Occipitonasal length is 25.73 mm.

Fig. 3.  Geographic distribution of Sciurus griseus.  Subspecies are: 1, S. g. anthonyi; 2, S. g. griseus; 3, S. g. nigripes.  Map redrawn from Hall (1981) with modifications.


Miscellaneous Comments

Use simple English, minimize jargon, and use American spelling (e.g., behavior, recognize, gray, color).  We are not writing just for professional mammalogists; Mammalian Species accounts are used by nonprofessionals.  To avoid ambiguous statements, do not use sequential modifiers, i.e., > 2 modifiers for the same noun.  Use numerals for all numbers (6 days, 1 deer, 7 mice, 5-fold) and ordinals (1st mouse, 6th palatal ridge, 3rd ed.), except as the first word of a sentence.  Use special word-processing characters if possible; e.g., for ranges of values, use a single en-dash (12–15 eggs), but use "to" with "from" as in “from 3 to 6 ova.”

Language Editing  Pre-Submission

ASM has a “Buddy System” which includes colleagues who have expressed willingness to assist authors with the presentation of their research. If English is not your primary language, you may request a ‘‘buddy’’ who will volunteer his/her time to assist you. Read more about the ASM "Buddy System" here. To be put in contact with a ‘‘buddy’’ please contact the Journal Editor.


Mammalian Species authors have the option to publish their paper under the Oxford Open initiative; whereby, for a charge, their paper will be made freely available online immediately upon publication. After your manuscript is accepted, the corresponding author will be required to accept a mandatory licence to publish agreement. As part of the licensing process, you will be asked to indicate whether or not you wish to pay for open access. If you do not select the open access option, your paper will be published with standard subscription-based access and you will not be charged.

Members of the ASM are eligible to receive a discount on the Open Access fee. To obtain this discount, when requested on the Author Services site to "Please enter American Society of Mammalogists membership number," ASM members should instead enter their ASM-registered email address.

Oxford Open articles are published under Creative Commons licences. 

RCUK/Wellcome Trust funded authors publishing in Mammalian Species can use the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY) for their articles.
All other authors must use the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial licence (CC-BY-NC).

Please click here for more information about the Creative Commons licences.

You can pay Open Access charges using our Author Services site. This will enable you to pay online with a credit/debit card, or request an invoice by email or post. The applicable open access charges vary according to which Creative Commons licence you select. The open access charges are as follows.

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