Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Fall Fund Drive

All specific names need authors

Maybe this has been discussed previously, but the specific name is incomplete without the name of the author following it, especially in entomology. We have to be sure we're talking about the right species, and to do that we have to know whose concept we're dealing with. We have a LOT of names in our groups. A resource such as BugGuide is missing a substantial amount of information with the author not included. Also, this would improve BugGuide as a resource. When I'm looking up a group that is not in my area, I can give someone a tentative ID, but to complete the specific name I have to go hunting elsewhere for the author. It would be so much easier and utilitarian if this were included in each specific name.


Software issues on this suggestion
This is a really good discussion, and I have tried to read through all of it. There is a software issue, and I am not sure it is clear to all, because only editors will be aware of it.

Currently the BugGuide software does not allow the placement of the author information in the species field. The authorship information has to go in another field that allows free text entry (more than one word). Another field would have to be added, or some other changes to the software made, in order to make the Binomial include author information in, say, the title of an info page, or the listing of classification in the name on a photo.

There are some other formatting issues. Currently, If I caption an image with a correct binomial, the software is smart enough to not duplicate that binomial in the final caption on the image.
If, on a photo of an Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus, I enter in the title field of the photo "Dynastes tityus", the caption generated is (1):
Dynastes tityus
If I want to enter a common name, or some other description as my title, (say, "Eastern Hercules Beetle") the software will add the binomial after my caption (2):
Eastern Hercules Beetle - Dynastes tityus

Adding author info to the species field is going to negate that feature (1), which is very useful in keeping the presentation of the guide clean and uncluttered for easy readability.
(I'm in favor of adding an author field, and making this concatenate with the binomial in some views, but this would take a software rewrite.)

I hope I'm adding clarity here, and not confusing issues already discussed.

When all is said and done I hope that somebody puts all this information in an organized way as a guidelines page. This discussion is very informative but I tend to get lost by things like this.

valuable point!
i'll take it under advisement :-]

Adding Authors
I'm trying to understand what's been decided here. Here is what I came up with for one species from Order down. These would all be in the box: Synonyms and other taxonomic changes:

Now: Hemiptera (Linnaeus, 1758)
Now: Heteroptera (Latreille, 1810)
Now: Pentatomidae (Leach, 1815)
Now: Murgantia (Stål, 1862)
Now: Murgantia histrionica (Hahn, 1834)

Is the last one the only one italicized, or does genus get italicized too?

you're right, the genus, too
Generic and trivial names get italicized.
But this info doesn't belong in 'Synonyms and other taxonomic changes' box anyway, 'cuz Murgantia histrionica is a valid name.

Just making sure we understand that only the full species name Murgantia histrionica (Hahn, 1834), not the higher classification names mentioned, should appear in the 'Synonyms and other taxonomic changes' box of the 'Info' page linked to that particular species. Further distinctions in that box are useful such as the currently accepted full species name (= valid name) placed after "now:"; to be followed by a list of the better known synonyms placed after "syn:". However, there is not much point in including "now:" when only the current full name appears in the box. Synonyms need not be full citations with author & date. An important taxonomic note about a particular genus would best appear in the 'Info\Synonyms and other taxonomic changes' box for that genus; likewise for the higher taxa. Any other thoughts?

So...How about
All Levels in the Explanation of Names:

Author of name Hemiptera (Linnaeus, 1758)
Author of name Heteroptera (Latreille, 1810)
Author of name Pentatomidae (Leach, 1815)
Author of name Murgantia (Stål, 1862)
Author of name Murgantia histrionica (Hahn, 1834)

Genus and species levels that have synonyms also placed in Synonyms and other taxonomic changes:

Now: Murgantia (Stål, 1862)
Now: Murgantia histrionica (Hahn, 1834)

1) Brackets may be used only after species names in appropriate cases, never after higher taxa, since they only indicate the fact that the author of the original description used that trivial name in combination with another generic name, not the one currently used.
2) There's no need to list higher taxa on species info pages; these are automatically displayed in Classification right under pictures and adequately reflect current placement.
3) Authors of taxa above genus are usually included only in academic publications dealing with nomenclatural issues; I see no point in using them in the guide.
But in any case:
4) Language ‘Author of name’ is redundant; “Hemiptera Linnaeus, 1758” says it all. However, a ‘full format,’ if adopted, should look like
Author of the name: Linnaeus. Year first published: 1758.
and only refer to the title name of each page.
5) Such info belongs on Hemiptera info page only, not under subordinate taxa.
6) This information doesn’t belong in Explanation of Names box either, due to the mere fact it provides no name explanation. Only etymology could, so the box’s content should be optional and added just for the heck of it.

So here’s my idea what these boxes should look like on M. histrionica page:

Explanation of Names
From Greek histrio clown, jester (apparently, refers to the color pattern)

Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Originally: Strachia histrionica Hahn, 1834
By the way, this particular species is not a good example, since it doesn’t seem to have any confusing synonyma used in recent past. So in case of M. histrionica the box could be as well left blank, as far as I’m concerned. Putting authors of current combinations on the info page is just an interim solution; they belong to the page title, and once such field is provided, any remarks like “Now: Murgantia histrionica (Hahn, 1834)” should be removed from the page.

Total agreement
with a few little additions.
To avoid confusion, paretheses are used rather than brackets (math is to be avoided at all costs).

The author/creator of the new combination can be helpful and would appear as:

Murgantia histrionica (Hahn, 1834) Author, yyyy.

If the information is available a more complete entry could be made, such as for Anuroctonus phaeodactylus:

Centrurus phaeodactylus Wood, 1863, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, p. 111; 1863, J. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia (2)5:372.

Anuroctonus phaeodactylus Pocock, 1902, Biol. Centrali-Americana, Arachnida, Scorpions, Pedipalpi and Solfugae, p. 14.

This provides more information than:

Anuroctonus phaeodactylus (Wood, 1963) Pocock, 1902.

Probably more stuff than the average BugGuide user wants at the moment, becomes useful for the curious individual wanting additional information.

i'm afraid...
...average BugGuide users may be turned off by the very look of overtechnical synonym list, while advanced users usually know where to look for more details. i think the syn. box must be filled with very practical, user-oriented objectives in mind (rather than full coverage)

...All that is really needed is the author - no parentheses if described in its current combination, with parentheses if not.

that's the info I needed....but how about doing it this way...

Explanation of Names
Author of the name: Hahn. Year first published: 1834.

From Greek histrio clown, jester (apparently, refers to the color pattern)

...and I prefer the use of parenthesis. It makes it clear to people who don't use taxonomy very often that it is not part of the name.

Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Originally: Strachia histrionica (Hahn, 1834)

using them after names of higher taxa is not a matter of choice or taste, it's just wrong; a phrase like "Ankilocephalus (McBelov, 1763)" sends the oxymoronic message that McBelov is not the author of the name!!!
for genera, italics separates the name form its author; for higher taxa, we don't need authors at all, as i said, so there's no problem

I'm confused
Not having any training in entomology/taxonomy I can't figure out when you are saying to use the parenthesis and when not to use them. I looked up some information here, and I can see the use of parenthesis is much more complicated than I would ever have imagined.

I think I see now that parenthesis are used when talking about a synonym and not used when talking about the current name.

... and I'm feeling a bit headachey reading this page.
A synonym and even a current species name can appropriately show the cited author in parenthesis. As others have said, the parenthesis simply means that the original author continues to get credit for first describing a particular animal despite that animal being moved later to a different genus by a different author. Rules of priority exclude the later author from being credited in the customary complete citation.

I basically agree with V. Belov, that BugGuide should be more practical and not pretend to be that academic. So if you come across an unfamiliar species name in the more general entomology literature, it could be a commonly used synonym (not current) and therefore a good candiate to be added to the Info\Synonym box in BugGuide.

A real concern: After working so hard to get nomenclature information into only "temporary" boxes, I hope we are not disappointed to learn that an almost equal amount work will be needed to tranfer same to better field boxes in a the future upgrade of BugGuide. If upgrade occurs in next couple months why bother with a lot of work now?

Which is
why I'm not touching anything until a dedicated LSID field shows up. :-)

The actual code is easier to follow than this discussion, and is highly recommended reading since many statements in this thread are incorrect.

The ICZN code is here. See chapter 11, article 51.3. One sentence and one example covers 99.9% of every species here.

Belov, why are parentheses not required in the first two new combinations you listed? (btw, I think your use of the phrase "trivial name" is incorrect in this thread, as that usually equates to "common name".)

thank you, Jay,
...for pointing out ICZN's prescribed rather than recommended use of parentheses. You are absolutely right, my bad. My only lame excuse in this case is that citing non-original combinations with unparenthesized author is still common practice in scientific literature.

trivial name usage: pls perform a Google search "generic trivial name binominal," you'll see many sources (to quote one that pops up at the top, "The first term (generic name) is always capitalized, while the specific epithet (trivial "name") is not; both are to be typeset in italics")

Looks like
we're both right.

Google definitions shows this.

Maybe we should just be more.. um... specific. :-)

i suppose...
...people here are just discussing what format is proper and where various pieces of information should go; i don't think anyone puts much effort yet to adorn species pages with authors' names, parenthesized or otherwise :-]

(that source you've cited doesn't address the issue at hand and is useless for purposes of this discussion)

The only situation where the author may* be put in parenthesis is after the second (=trivial) part of the binomial name that was used with a different first part in original description.
Example: Let's say, i publish a description of a new species, Lynettia schimmingae McBelov, in the next issue of Proc. US Bugging Assoc.
Until and unless someone decides to move that species to a different genus, it must be referred to as Lynettia schimmingae McBelov, 2009 -- no parenthesis! However, if a colleague decides that the species must be, for whatever reason, placed in another genus (say, Eulynettia), and publishes it in the new combination Eulynettia schimmingae he may refer to it as Eulynettia schimmingae (McBelov, 2009) putting my name in parenthesis. Then those who agree with such new placement and call the species Eulynettia schimmingae will have the choice to use parenthesis around the author (to show that my species had been transferred), while those who disagree with the move and keep using the original combination, Lynettia schimmingae, will have no such choice and may not put “McBelov” in parenthesis.


Correct usage:
Lynettia schimmingae McBelov, 2009
Lynettia schimmingae McBelov
Eulynettia schimmingae McBelov, 2009 – parenthesis not required, but advisable
Eulynettia schimmingae McBelov – parenthesis not required, but advisable
Eulynettia schimmingae (McBelov, 2009) – parenthesis allowed and convenient
Eulynettia schimmingae (McBelov) – parenthesis allowed and convenient

Incorrect usage – parenthesis not allowed:
Lynettia schimmingae McBelov (2009)
Lynettia schimmingae (McBelov)
Lynettia schimmingae (McBelov, 2009)
Eulynettia schimmingae McBelov (2009)

Where the year is indicated and parenthesis used, year goes inside the parenthesis, too.
*It is a recommended rather than required practice, a matter of convenience (however, putting authors in parenthesis in any other situation would be wrong and misleading)

Thanks much!
I really appreciate you taking the time to teach this.

Without a background in Latin
Without a background in Latin, the explanation of names may be a bit too inconvenient to include

purely optional
that's why i consider it purely optional -- however educational and fun it may be

How about:
Buprestis aurulenta Linnaeus, 1767

syn. lauta (LeConte) 1854a:17 (Ancylochira).
syn. radians (LeConte) 1854a:17 (Ancylochira).
syn. chrysochlora (Philippi) in Philippi & Philippi 1864b:314 (Stigmodera).
syn. villosa (LeConte) 1873:331 (Anchylochira).
syn. fabulosa Casey 1909:119.
syn. aemula Casey 1909:121.
syn. tacomae Casey 1909:121.
syn. nupta Casey 1909:121.
syn. venusta Casey 1909:122.
syn. affinis Casey 1909:123.
syn. adulans Casey 1909:123.


BugGuide Isn't a Catalog
When I create a page, I usually just say:
"Originally described as Firstgenus firstspecies by Firstauthor in yearofpublication."
If I can I make the author name into a hyperlink to the Wikipedia entry for the author in question.

I only list synonyms that I think people are going to look for, so that the page shows up in searches for the synonym. More than that, and it becomes as useful and interesting as random pages from a phone book.

If you really want all that synonymy available, put a citation to your source in the appropriate reference section, so those who want more information have some place to look.

Remember that our editors range from a few international taxonomic authorities to knowledgeable amateurs to total novices who know absolutely nothing. We simply don't have the resources to be taxonomically comprehensive without massively plagiarizing better sources.

I also agree
Authors' names should be included, but as you so properly point out BugGuide is not a catalog and should not strive to be one. Synonyms are clutter in the BugGuide context and can be obtained elsewhere.

most sound approach to the issue
i agree with every single point you've made

a bit too much
That's very academic and professional (impeccable format, &c) but i would avoid overloading BG's pages with synonyma not used in recent decades in works to which BG contributors can be reasonably expected to be exposed :-]
Basically, the synonymism should cover names used as valid in sources listed under our Books tab -- i.e. if Dillon & Dillon, 1961 call the BG's Atalantycha bilineata "Cantharis bilineatus," this must be covered, but not the legions of Casey's names synonymized before, say, 1960.
While posting data, keep in mind the primary goal: helping people to learn about insects and avoid confusion. The approach should be very practical. Including too much may turn counterproductive. Ask yourself: Will anyone look for this information on this page? Which page is the best place for this info? What are possible scenarios where BG users could look for this piece of knowledge?

How about:
Buprestis aurulenta Linnaeus, 1767

syn. lauta (LeConte) 1854a:17 (Ancylochira).
syn. radians (LeConte) 1854a:17 (Ancylochira).
syn. chrysochlora (Philippi) in Philippi & Philippi 1864b:314 (Stigmodera).
syn. villosa (LeConte) 1873:331 (Anchylochira).
syn. fabulosa Casey 1909:119.
syn. aemula Casey 1909:121.
syn. tacomae Casey 1909:121.
syn. nupta Casey 1909:121.
syn. venusta Casey 1909:122.
syn. affinis Casey 1909:123.
syn. adulans Casey 1909:123.

If we've reached a consensus,
If we've reached a consensus, I can get started on the Buprestids that I'm so fond of

Not sure if John
is following this, but for spiders I would love to have an additional field added to the database for the LSID.

If I can get permission from Norm Platnick (on BugGuide's behalf) I would be happy to enter the LSID tag for each spider taxon.

I could then feed John a database update file to fill out the current (and complete) name and all synonymies for every species right now and for every time The World Spider Catalog is updated. No spelling errors, no typos, and nothing gets missed.

I can't think of a more sensible way to do it at this time.

Author citation
can be helpful. If not done according to ICZN guidelines in can lead to incorrect assumptions. A nomenclatural history would be very informative as it shows revisions in taxonomy as well as any synonyms (homonyms). This would be appropriate on the info page.

Author citations may be cumbersome if included in other locations.

(a) OPTIONAL USE - The name of the author does not form part of the name of a taxon and its citation is optional, although customary and often advisable.

Just a thought.

I do it for Anobiids
In a way as Beatriz suggested, but I give the full name under "remarks", not under "synonyms".

For the "brackets-question":

Brackets around author name AND year indicate, that the original genus in which the species was described is different from that it currently stands in. Use of brackets depends on this knowledge!

Yeah, I knew that much, just
Yeah, I knew that much, just wasn't sure if the brackets should include the year or not.

yes they should
if you use brackets, don't leave the year outside

Discussed previously
here and it seems that people generally favor the idea.

I agree with Peter that the absence of author names hasn't caused confusion at BugGuide. What HAS caused confusion is the accidental creation of two or more pages for a single species - sometimes because synonyms weren't listed, and sometimes due to laziness. This has happened numerous times, and the presence of author names would not have prevented it. (A "Synonyms and other taxonomic changes" field is available on every page but if left blank, nothing appears on the page).

A separate field would be my preference. If someone wants to make a project of adding author names and dates, that's great: more power to them.

yes -- great point
see a recently discovered example here

What is needed is a consensus among our "experts"
on the importance of actually requiring authorship here at BugGuide --but of course only for species/subspecies rank. I assume the requirement would pertain only to the one-time created species page in the Guide section and not the daily routine identifications given during the course of messaging. Why not also extend same questions to the inclusion of "year" of authorship and the proper usage of nomenclatural brackets. I am in favor of such enhancements. However, to be fair, the absence of the extra information has not caused any instance of confusion here at BugGuide, at least with regard to Carabidae - my area of expertise. Since there is currently not a separate field available for author & year, I wonder if the species name field could accomodate the extra information. Possibly not because blank space separators would be needed and current software may not like that; also probably can't properly italicize the appropriate parts of the complete species name. Do remember that today's species names have an annoying habit of changing so BugGuide experts will have to keep on top of the current revisions. To carry things to an extreme, why not also incorporate an information field that lists some of the common or recently used synonyms? The huge blocks of volunteer hours needed will likely kill that idea.

In the meantime
We could encourage all editors to include that information on the guide page, such as here Augochloropsis anonyma.
I didn't use to pay much attention to it but am doing it more and more whenever possible.

My recommendation
follows lead of Beatriz for putting extra nomenclature in the "Info" field box named "Synonyms and other taxonomic changes". For the large backlog of incomplete carabid species pages at BugGuide I intend to (now & then) insert full citations and selected widely known synonyms as in my first such attempt for Scarites quadriceps. While use of "now:" is not necessary, it does line up esthetically with next line starting "syn:", the standard abbreviation for "synonym". I do not feel the need to give full citations for synonyms but I will listen to compelling reasons for doing so. I encourage others to contribute the same to their areas of expertise, including to Carabidae as I do not relish the idea of doing it alone.

Better link to Scarites quadriceps is
Scarites quadriceps as the one above works only for editors. Code for italicizing the species name is demonstrated in the above link intended for editors.

good idea, Peter
it would be practical to list just synonyms used in more general-purpose sources that the BG's audience is likely to use (mostly books and, say, gardening/forestry &c websites -- these have the highest potential to confuse people)

Unfortunately BugGuide does not provide searches for synonyms.
Therefore, a "gardener" wanting "Scarites substriatus", common in the older lay literature as a perceived garden pest, will quickly be frustrated and likely not even be informed about the existence of taxonomic synonymy.

sure there's a problem
but those with minimal BG experience will no doubt get to the relevant page by putting 'substriatus' in the search box

You're right.
I was overly pessimistic until I tried myself to search "Scarites substriatus" at the BugGuide home page. I was happy to see that at least link "Scarites quadriceps" appeared in the search results. I would expect that any person searching would at least try clicking on that link which would then bring up information about the synonymy.

Well, I'll go ahead and do th
Well, I'll go ahead and do that for all the Buprestids, I'll just stick the full citation into the synonyms bok, and I'll list the other synonyms for the species, though I'll not provide citations for those unless requested

good idea, Beatriz
(now that project could make me reconsider my staying-out-of-editorship policy -- i mean, if the author+year field[s] will be added to the species name)

Would be
nice to have, but how to implement?
+Add Author to current species field - would require a software change so the authority portion wouldn't be in italics.
+Add a separate field?

You'd almost need an editable database view - having to open every single species page, then edit, etc. - whew!

Needs to be done.
I concur whole-heartedly that this needs to be done. I was disappointed to learn that we wouldn't be including author names in the field guide I did with Kenn Kaufman. Simply put, a scientific name 'without' an author is incomplete. I'd happily do the work if this gets approved by the webmaster.

i couldn't agree more...
...and already lamented the practice of leaving organisms' names orphaned -- which, among other things, amounts to copyright infringement :-]
the author's name + year must be a part of any genus and species page title, but can be omitted in lists displayed under the Taxonomy tab. as to the format, comma between the authority name and the year is preferable.

1 2
next page
last page
Comment viewing options
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click 'Save settings' to activate your changes.