Can old synonyms still be used in modern literature?

I’m currently writing a book on the avifauna on the region, so I have a few questions to ask regarding taxonomy

For the scientific names, I admit my choices are largely subjective. I am aware that some “rules” exist regarding binomial nomenclature but is using an outdated synonym still mean my resulting book is valid as a form of scientific literature?

For example, the caspian tern, I intend to use the synonym Hydroprogne tschegrava instead of Hydroprogne caspia, or for the Pallas’s gull Larus ichthyaetus instead of Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus

I hope I’m making sense here

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In order to avoid confusion it’s best to use the current terms. It’s worth mentioning them for the historical context, but for actual use best to use the up-to-date terms.

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Yes. The names are still validly published names even if they are currently not the preffered name.

It would be best to follow the names used by eBird or iNat as they are up to date with our modern understanding of the taxonomy.

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I see. Honestly the only real reason I intend to use these specific synonyms is because they’re not too outdated (like for example in the 1700’s when curlews and godwits were included in the genus Scolopax) and because they sound “cooler”

I don’t see naming Pallas’s gull as Larus as valid in 2022, with tern you can just mention some local common names, after all that’s what tschegrava is.

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The problem with using old synonyms is species are often renamed because they were considered to be apart of a described species when in reality they were a unique species. Alternatively, two populations might be called two different species until evidence suggests they actually belong to the same species. Finally, species are routinely moved from one taxon to another in order to remedy paraphyly. In all three scenarios, using an outdated name would misidentify the species and thus be avoided.

In biology, it is important to give credit to the original author of a species, and so species names are not changed unless they’re incorrect.

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I am not a zoologist and I can’t comment on the merit of your particular case.

However, many synonyms are the result of different taxonomic concepts and opinions, and so are perfectly ok to use, so long as you’re aware of the concept that your choice of name implies.

For example, I could use the name Caladenia caudata or Arachnorchis caudatus. One uses a broader genus concept that considers several groups to be one broader genus, the second is a narrower concept that splits off the spider caladenias from the finger ones. The choice is totally individual.

If a disused synonym turns out to be invalid as a junior homonym, or a nomen nudum, then it IS incorrect to use it.

There are a lot of cases in between these. Paraphyly gets a mention above, but I know quite a few taxonomists skeptical of recent trends to sink bunches of genera to the oldest available name so as to avoid paraphyly.

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Better to use the most current names but you can certainly mention the earlier names as synonyms. Who knows, the way taxonomy goes these days they could flip back to those “defunct” synonyms.

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It would be OK to follow a recent published checklist and state in the introduction that is the nomenclature you are following. That relieves you of the responsibility for checking what are the latest name changes, which if it takes you a few years to write the book could involve several revisions, and if the publishers are slow it could still be out of date by the time it appears. But you then have the problem of changes that are more than nomenclatural - the splits and lumps.

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I agree with what others have said.

In the case of tschegrava, it is on the Official Index of Rejected and Invalid Specific Names in Zoology, placed there in 1970, so it is best not to use it. Handbook to the Birds of the World (2020) states:

Species name often given as H. tschegrava , particularly in Russian works, name dating from same year as caspia ; to avoid further confusion, name tschegrava officially suppressed in 1970.

Usually the only reason to use a synonym rather than the current name in the scientific literature is if you explicitly state that you are following a certain checklist, or are very familiar with the reason the name was changed and disagree with the reasoning - but then you should explain why.

Good luck with your book!

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Here is the original source if you want to see it: https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/12224130#page/271/mode/1up

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For the scientific names, I admit my choices are largely subjective. I am aware that some “rules” exist regarding binomial nomenclature but is using an outdated synonym still mean my resulting book is valid as a form of scientific literature?
For example, the caspian tern, I intend to use the synonym Hydroprogne tschegrava instead of Hydroprogne caspia, or for the Pallas’s gull Larus ichthyaetus instead of Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus

If you think the junior name is valid over the older name for various reasons (the holotype is based on inadequate or non-diagnostic material, the older name is preoccupied by another taxon and had to be changed, that is perfectly fine.

The rules state that you should use the oldest possible name that is still valid, unless a specific exception is made by the ICZN for the sake of scientific communication (nomen conservandum) or common practice is to use a certain name within a given field.

E.g., with the latter in paleontology we have some species that might be senior synonyms of other taxa based on circumstance (Ceratops, Troodon, Trachodon, Manospondylus, Achlysictis, Dystrophaeus maybe, Palaeoscincus, etc.), but the unspoken rule is to ignore them because the people who described them did a shoddy job and named them off of bone scraps, and we can’t reasonably tell them apart from other dinosaurs.

Honestly the only real reason I intend to use these specific synonyms is because they’re not too outdated (like for example in the 1700’s when curlews and godwits were included in the genus Scolopax ) and because they sound “cooler”

Do not do this. Aesthetic preference has no bearing on the validity of a name. As stated by Wedel (2009):

Finally, I beg forgiveness from all brachiosaur lovers, that so beautiful an animal as “Brachiosaurus” brancai now has to be known by so inelegant a name as Giraffatitan.

The only possible exception to this I can think of might be Megapnosaurus, and that’s because it was deliberately coined as an insult to other scientists, which is against the ICZN rules (Appendix A, point 4).

Genus names are a bit more of a gray area, because they are subjective. About the only rule with genera is that they should represent monophyletic clades (i.e., they all represent one group more closely related to themselves than any other) and even that gets bent from time to time for the sake of reducing confusion. If you think the gulls are all similar to one another they should all be in Larus that’s one thing, but then you need to make sure that other gull lineages like Rissa are in there to ensure it’s monophyletic. And it should be done for biological or evolutionary reasons, not because the name Larus “sounds cooler”.

There are “vigilante taxonomists” out there who do exactly like what you’re suggesting. E.g., I know of at least two paleontologists who either deliberately try to use the names listed above like Ceratops and Manospondylus even after the latter was ruled a nomen oblitum (as in, officially forgotten about name), or commit rampant taxonomic revision of the dinosaur family tree whenever it suits them (e.g., treat Deinonychus as a junior synonym of Velociraptor and get the raptors in Jurassic Park/World incorrectly labelled in the public mind for 32 years). Other scientists tend to view them as not very trustworthy researchers for exactly this reason.

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I understand that. Since kittiwakes aren’t present in the country covered by my book it seems ill be fine using Larus for the seagulls however the caspian tern should keep its current name in the published work