Add date of publication to synonyms

For scientific names and synonyms, I think it would be great to add the date of such and such name to understand the full taxon history.

Example: Fox Sparrow
Zonotrichia iliaca 1786
Fringilla iliaca 1786
Passerella iliaca 1837 – Current

In scientific writing, the author of the name is always paired with the date, as such:
Zonotrichia iliaca (Merrem, 1786)
Fringilla iliaca Merrem, 1786
Passerella iliaca (Merrem, 1786)

Note that in these cases, the author and date are the same because the only thing that has changed is the genus. It looks like it was originally described as Fringilla, and subsequent writers placed the name under different genera. (This is why the author and date are in parentheses after Zonotrichia and Passerella but not Fringilla.)

This is confusing because the genus was described in 1837, not the species. I could see why this might be helpful information (say if this species has been in this genus since 1837—which isn’t necessarily true) but that’s not how it would be notated in formal writing.

Now, would it be helpful to put both the author and the date with each taxon? Possibly. It would definitely help resolve certain ambiguous (and usually minor) taxonomic issues. It’s probably unnecessary in helping the average naturalist understand what they’ve found though. External sources can provide this if someone wants to dive deeper, and they’ll have to look externally to find more info anyway. On the other hand, as a curator there’s definitely been more than once though where I’ve wished our names had authorities.


this is a little off topic but…
this is something I’d really like at the header of a taxon page.
for example maybe something like:

but this is probably just a nerd thing and doesn’t have much of a use to the site. idk.


There’s this: which is about author citations rather than date of the name’s publication.


ooo thank you! that’s exactly it.


Maybe that’s confusing but previous to 1837, the Fox Sparrow went under the scientific name Zonotrichia iliaca and though its not the year the species was described, it’s a literate history of the names the species went under. If it perhaps makes you feel more comfortable with a change like this, allow this change to happen and add the author and date to the taxon name to the top of the page.

Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) Merrem 1786


Scientific Name – Zonotrichia iliaca 1786
Scientific Name – Passerella iliaca 1837

I think the best way to represent that would be:

Passerella iliaca (Merrem, 1786) sensu Swainson (1837)

But I’ve never actually seen that anywhere, and that technically might not be correct if Swainson didn’t include P. iliaca in Passerella and a later author moved it there. The only time I’ve ever seen anything like this would be something like the following, and that seems a bit excessive to include on iNat.

What would you do if it had been moved to one genus and then back to what it was originally? Would you list the first date, or the date that it was decided that it “actually” belonged in that genus?

And would these have to be all added manually? I’ve never seen just the date listed with a name (although listing just the author or an abbreviation of the author is common). That might just be that my taxonomic experience is limited to certain phyla. Have you seen this format elsewhere? That would be easier to import and keep from adding to the already overburdened curatorial load. Maybe it’s a bird thing?