Authors of species names

Julian Humphries jmh3 at CORNELL.EDU
Tue Aug 10 17:26:49 CDT 1993

>I do not share Julian Humphries strictures on the use of authorship of
>scientific names on specimen labels.  The cited authorship is often very
>useful in discerning the basis for the particular identification - yes it
>may reveal the collector's or the later identifier's ignorance, but in a
>clarifying rather than confusing manner.
>In summary, cite real "authorities", not latter-day additions of

But in a computerized collection system the "author" is just a lookup into
a table matching binomials with authors.  How could this help discern the
basis for identification?  Under what general conditions would the
combining author be useful on a label?

In fact, unless the attached name deals with "concepts" (or we are
excluding homonyms) the actual author of a name doesn't seem useful for
your suggested purpose (greater precision).  Now, if you are using the
concept of authority to identify a name "in the sense of" or "as used by"
a particular researcher (or Flora), then that name gives meaning to an
identification.  But it seems to me that that isn't the case, nor can we
determine if that was the case by merely seeing a binomial followed by a
name (as seems to a zoologist the general practice at herbaria).  I can
think of many pieces of information about the process of identification
that would be more useful to include on a label than author.

Julian Humphries
The Vertebrate Collections and The MUSE Project, Cornell University
Building 3, Research Park
83 Brown Road
Ithaca, NY  14850

Voice: 607-257-8143
Fax:   607-257-8109
Email: jmh3 at

More information about the Taxacom mailing list