Naming a species after yourself (zoology)

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Mon Mar 6 10:03:51 CST 2006

Hmmm....does anyone happen know the average number of authors on articles in
Nature and Science?  One wonders whether every one of a 20+ authored paper
contributed more substantially to the research contained therein than, say,
a collector who provided type material for one or more new species.

I know nothing about the particular situation that Robin describes, but it
is not unheard of in the fish world to include as a junior author a person
who collected significant numbers of type specimens of new species (and/or
provided detailed information about ecological characteristics and other
field-based observations), but otherwise did not contribute much else to the

So....imagine a situation where a parataxonomist or other naturalist
collected specimens of 5 new species, and presented those specimens to the
taxonomic authority for the group.  It seems perfectly reasonable to include
the collector as either a junior author (recognizing that a big part of
alpha taxonomy is simply recognizing that something in the field is
different from anything that is already known), or as the honoree of a
patronym.  I don't see any real ethical violation in doing both in the same
paper -- especially if the specific authorship of the patronym does not
include the honoree.

My opinion is that we have bigger issues in the field of taxonomy to concern
ourselevs with, and as long as the science is good, it should be up to the
authors themselves who the authors are, and what text strings will be
assigned as labels to new taxa (within the bounds of the relevant Code, of
course). Withholding publication for this reason alone seems unjustified to


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU]On
> Behalf Of Brian Brown
> Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 9:06 AM
> Subject: Re: Naming a species after yourself (zoology)
> Yes, I agree with Steve, Gene, & GB that this person shouldn't be an
> author on the paper if he didn't contribute to it. He should be
> sufficiently "honored" by the species designation.
> Brian
> ___________________________
> Brian V. Brown
> Curator, Entomology Section
> Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
> 900 Exposition Boulevard
> Los Angeles, CA, 90007, USA
> Telephone 213 763-3363
> FAX 213 746-2999
> bbrown at
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU] On
> Behalf Of Gene Hall
> Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 10:53 AM
> Subject: Re: Naming a species after yourself (zoology)
> I agree with Steve...why is the third author included in the paper if he
> had nothing to do with the paper??
> Gene
> >In this case, reject the paper.  Authorship of species should not
> include
> >those who did not contribute to their description, just as authorship
> of
> >papers should not include those who did not contribute to writing it.
> >--Steve
> >
> >______________________
> >Steven W. Lingafelter, Ph. D.
> >Systematic Entomology Lab, USDA
> >MRC-I68
> >National Museum of Natural History
> >Smithsonian Institute PO Box 37012
> >Washington, DC 20013-7012
> >
> >Phone: 202-382-1793
> >Email: slingafe at
> >
> >
> > >>> Robin Leech <releech at TELUSPLANET.NET> - 3/6/06 1:37 PM >>>
> >Hi Brian,
> >In this case, the third author is merely being honored.  He had
> >nothing at all to do with any aspect of the paper or the
> >research that went into it.
> >Robin
> >
> >----- Original Message -----
> >From: "Brian Brown" <BBrown at NHM.ORG>
> >Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 11:13 AM
> >Subject: Re: Naming a species after yourself (zoology)
> >
> >
> > >It should be a matter of course that such a naming shouldn't be done
> by
> >the >authors.
> >
> >I have a different view. In the situation that Robin describes, where
> >the third author possibly worked on the biology or some other aspect,
> >there seems to be nothing wrong to me with naming the species for
> >him/her. We are going to be faced with naming hundreds of thousands to
> >millions of currently unknown organisms, and believe me, coming up with
> >new names in species-rich groups can be a time-consuming (and to some
> >extent a time-wasting) task. As long as this name is unique within the
> >genus, I wouldn't have any problem with Robin's situation if I was a
> >reviewer. Lets not make this a cast in stone law.
> >
> >As far as "Cartwrightia cartwrighti Cartwright" is concerned, in
> today's
> >social climate most would see this as unacceptable, but as Doug said
> >there is nothing prohibiting it (other than the author's contemplation
> >of what his colleagues would think of such egomania).
> >
> >
> >Brian
> >___________________________
> >Brian V. Brown
> >Curator, Entomology Section
> >Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
> >900 Exposition Boulevard
> >Los Angeles, CA, 90007, USA
> >Telephone 213 763-3363
> >FAX 213 746-2999
> >bbrown at
> >
> ************************************************************************
> ********************************
> Gene Hall
> Invertebrate Zoology Collections Manager
> CU Museum of Natural History
> UCB 265
> University of Colorado
> Boulder, CO 80309-0265
> Phone: 303.735.5262
> CU Museum:
> Research/CV:
> Ptiliidae:
> Coleopterists Society:

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