[Taxacom] Authorities for trinomials

Ginzbarg, Steve sginzbar at biology.as.ua.edu
Sun Aug 27 15:31:44 CDT 2006

Richard Pyle wrote: 

> ... in the case of 
> invalid/unavailable names, "keeping track" is certainly 
> assisted by the inclusion of authorships in some 
> standardized/conventional way -- which brings us back to the 
> issue that originally started this thread.

To summarize our progress on resolving Richard Zander's original
question regarding the practice of inserting the authorities of
binomials after the species name in trinomials in addition to the
authority of the trinomial:

The ICBN does not consider authors to be part of a taxon name. The Code
has rules regarding names and rules regarding the citation of authors of
names. There are recommendations on the full citation of names + authors
including citation of invalid names, General recommendations on citation
(Rec. 50A-F). However, the code takes no stand on the question Richard

Conventions differ on the inclusion of authors with names. Mark Skinner
has pointed out that IPNI, GRIN and the USDA PLANTS database include
binomial authors of trinomials while ITIS does not.

Richard Zander wrote: 

> Why did I start this thread?

Whether the authors are included or not makes little difference to a
human reading printed text. The issue has taken on more importance now
that herbaria are beginning to provide their specimen data including the
scientific name to common data portals such as GBIF. A computer search

Aus bus var. cus Miller

Will not find specimens determined as

Aus bus Jones var. cus Miller

The only standard so far to set a convention on inclusion of authors in
addition to the authors of the whole name is the Taxon Concept Transfer
Schema (TCS). The TCS, http://tdwg.napier.ac.uk, voted a TDWG standard
in 2005, includes "author given only for the lowest nomenclatural rank"
in the description of the Simple element, ScientificName complex type

In the current draft of Darwin Core 2 it is recommended that authors be
included in the ScientificName element. The question of providing
binomial authors for trinomials is not addressed. There has been a
recommendation to omit authors altogether.

The Access to Biological Collections Data (ABCD) schema does not have an
element for the full scientific name string specific for botany. The
general element says that the name should be "preferrably formed in
accordance with a Code of Nomenclature, i. e. a monomial, bionomial, or
trinomial plus author(s) or author team(s)..."
(http://www.bgbm.org/TDWG/CODATA/Schema/, Schema viewer link, Complex
type: Taxon identified/ScientificName/FullScientificNameString).

ABCD does have elements for the atomized Botanical Name. Darwin Core has
atomized general scientific name elements. Both only have a place to
record the authors of the whole name.

What is GBIF doing to allow retrieval of specimen data for a species
given the inconsistent inclusion of authors in the scientific name? They
have two types of searches available the advanced search,
http://afroditi.gbif.org:8080/pres/PresentationServlet?action=home, and
indexed searches, 'Browse' and 'Search' from http://www.gbif.org/. The
advanced search queries the name just as it was provided by
participating herbaria (w/ authors or w/o authors). Results are
available as soon as herbaria provide them. The index searches search
cleaned up data cached by GBIF. The data are infrequently updated.

The advanced search can be searched by parts of the atomized name rather
than by the full scientific name, e.g. Genus = Aus AND Species = bus AND
Subspecies = cus AND ScientificNameAuthor = Miller. There is only one
atomized field for the author of the name so this search should retrieve

ScientificName                   Genus Species Subspecies
Aus bus var. cus Miller          Aus   bus     cus        Miller
Aus bus Jones var. cus Miller    Aus   bus     cus        Miller

That is, if the atomized fields are provided. ScientificName is required
but the atomized fields are not. This also assumes that the author
abbreviations follow Brummit.

The atomized search is not as convenient as a full scientific name
search which most search engines, e.g. TROPICOS use. Perhaps what is
needed is a required field ScientificName field for which no authors are
to be included at all. A second field VerbatimIdentification field could
show all the authors which the determiner of the specimen included along
with any identification qualifiers, e.g. "cf." or "aff." A query might
return more specimens than one was interested in, e.g. homonyms, but the
records could be visually inspected and the unwanted records weeded out.

I think asking herbaria to include a third scientific name fields with
authors but no identification qualifiers and with no binomial authors
provided for trinomials might be asking alot of data providers. I don't
think it will be easy to reach a concensus on whether or not the
binomial authors should be included either.

Will GUIDs make the issue a mute point? We'll have to wait and see.
There may always be some names that herberia wish to provide that are
not on the global taxon lists which will still need to be provided as

-Steve Ginzbarg
Steve Ginzbarg, Collections Manager
Herbarium (UNA)
Department of Biological Sciences
Box 870345
The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0345
(205) 348-1829, FAX: (205) 348-6460
sginzbar at biology.as.ua.edu

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