author of the name

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Fri Jul 11 08:56:50 CDT 2003

Of course, I fully agree with Doug on this.  But I also understand that it
is often not feasible to establish a robust taxonomic authority for
collections databases, so in cases where the taxonomic name is embedded
within the specimen data table, I still believe it to be useful to include a
field for authorship.

Following Doug's line of thinking, though, I'll point out that the ideal
approach is much more complicated than a taxonomic authority with a field
for authorship.

First of all, specimens get identified and re-identified potentially several
or many times -- so you need a 1:many relationship between specimens and
names.  Second, I have gotten away from treating "authorship" as a
text-string value, and establish a link between a name and a "Reference",
and then a further set of links between References and their authors (unique
ID codes for both References and "Agents" who serve as authors).  Thus, the
authorship of a taxon name is derrived from the authorship of the Reference
in which the name was described.  It's imporant to note that a "Reference"
in this case includes subsections of what we might otherwise think of a
single "Reference" (e.g., journal article).  Such "Subreferences" are
necessary to accomodate cases where authorship of a species does not match
the authorship of the parent reference in which its original description
appeared (e.g., "Smith & Jones in Smith").

Paul Kirk wrote:

> The name of the determiner and the
> source of the determination (flora or monograph used) is equally as
> important for interpreting the collection in the absence of a
> re-examination.

I couldn't agree more!  If you have a choice between recording the author of
the taxon name, and the person(s) and/or source of how the specimen was
determined to be that name, the determiner/source is DEFINITELY more
important!  This gets into the issue of taxon names vs. taxon concepts...but
I think we're starting to get beyond the point of Liliana's original


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at USOBI.ORG]On Behalf Of
> Doug Yanega
> Sent: Friday, July 11, 2003 8:45 AM
> Subject: Re: author of the name
> >In biodiversity information system based on specimen data from biological
> >scientific collection, should have as mandatory data
> >  the author of the name and date of publication for the scientific name?
> Realistically, this information should be in a hierarchical form -
> that is, in a relational database, so an individual specimen record
> contains a minimum amount of data (to minimize redundancy). In this
> case, the ideal format for a specimen record will contain a single
> unique code that links to a separate authority file of taxon names,
> and THAT file contains all the details pertaining to each name: e.g.,
> original genus, present genus, epithet, author, date of publication,
> synonyms, distribution, type depository, bibliography, etc. When you
> need output, you specify which of these fields you wish to see linked
> to the specimen record - in most cases, this will be present genus,
> epithet, and author. Building a good authority file is, of course,
> quite a challenge.
> If you have any other questions, you can contact me off-list.
> --
> Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
> Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
> phone: (909) 787-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
>    "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>          is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

More information about the Taxacom mailing list