Author citation (zoology)

In zoological nomenclature, author citation refers to listing the person (or team) who first makes a scientific name of a taxon available. This is done in a scientific publication while fulfilling the formal requirements under the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, hereinafter termed "the Code". According to the Code, "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" (Article 51.1), however Recommendation 51A suggests: "The original author and date of a name should be cited at least once in each work dealing with the taxon denoted by that name. This is especially important in distinguishing between homonyms and in identifying species-group names which are not in their original combinations". For the purpose of information retrieval, the author citation and year appended to the scientific name, e.g. genus-species-author-year, genus-author-year, family-author-year, etc., is often considered a "de facto" unique identifier, although for a number of reasons discussed below, this usage may often be imperfect.

The Code recognises three groups of names, according to rank:

Within each group, the same authorship applies regardless of the taxon level to which the name (with, in the case of a family-group name, the appropriate ending) is applied. For example, the taxa that the red admiral butterfly can be assigned to:

The identity of the author had long been a matter of dispute and of secondary importance. In the first attempt to provide international rules for zoological nomenclature in 1895, the author was defined as the author of the scientific description, and not as the person who provided the name (published or unpublished), as had been usual practice in various animal groups before. This had the result that in some disciplines, for example in malacology, most taxonomic names had to change their authorship because they had been attributed to other persons who never published a scientific work.

This new rule was however not sufficiently accurate and did not provide an exact guide, so that in the following decades taxonomic practice continued to diverge among disciplines and authors. The ambiguous situation led a member of the ICZN Commission in 1974 to provide an interpretation of Art. 50 of the second edition of the Code (effective since 1961), where the author had been defined as "the person who first publishes a scientific name in a way that satisfies the criteria of availability", an interpretation following which this should be seen as largely being restricted to providing a description or diagnosis.

Currently most (but not all) taxonomists accept this view and restrict authorship for a taxonomic name to the person who was responsible for having written the textual scientific content of the original description, or in other words, the visibly responsible person for having written down what the publisher finally published. The author of an image is not recognized as co-author of a name, even if the image was the only base provided for making the name available.

This page was last edited on 5 June 2018, at 01:00.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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