Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Common names of species, the curious case of Capra pyrenaica and the concomitant steps towards the ‘wild-to-domestic’ transformation of a flagship species and its vernacular names

  • Mathieu SarasaEmail author
  • Samer Alasaad
  • Jesús M. Pérez
Review Paper


Common names (CN) add to linguistic richness and ultimately derive from how a majority of people refer to a species. CN have a biological and–above all—practical importance given that they are essential for connecting specialists and lay people. To illustrate the diversity of CN between and within species, we made an overview of common name in Caprinae species—flagship species in mountain ecosystems. Then, using Capra pyrenaica as a study case, we highlighted that the choice of CN is inextricably linked to current debates and trends in wildlife management that should never be ignored, given their importance in the fields of ethics, zoology, systematics, conservation and current management. We underline the need to investigate further the probable relationships linking common names, human perception and wildlife management. Researchers, citizens and policy-makers will have to be watchful that clumsy common names, such as ‘wild-to-domestic’ transformed ones, will not hamper the conservation of wild species as a ‘Common Heritage’.


Artificial selection Caprinae Common names Conservation Environmental policy Human perception Hybridization Wildlife management Wildness 



We would like to thank Emmanuel Serrano (SEFaS-UAB, Spain) for his useful comments and talks. Thank you also to Agnès Sarasa and Michael Lockwood for the English revision. The research activities of the authors are partially supported by the Plan Andaluz de Investigación Desarrollo e Innovación de la Junta de Andalucía (RNM-118 group).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mathieu Sarasa
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Samer Alasaad
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jesús M. Pérez
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Grupo Biología de las Especies Cinegéticas y Plagas (RNM-118)SevillaSpain
  2. 2.Estación Biológica de DoñanaSevillaSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de Biología Animal, Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias ExperimentalesUniversidad de JaénJaénSpain
  4. 4.Oloron-Sainte-MarieFrance

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