Scientific Authority on Species Pages

Just noticed today that on the species pages it doesn’t say the scientific authority for any mentioned species. It’s a pretty small thing that basically every taxonomic database and their mothers has so I find it odd that we as a massive taxonomic database do not.

Wouldn’t be too tough of a change I would think. Maybe just place it on the top bar next to the scientific and common name. Or alternatively maybe place it just beneath it. Thoughts?

I would be interested in seeing a discussion on this. As a biologist I’m accustomed to seeing it as an extension of the name, but I seldom use it myself. Botanists in particular seem to expect it, but is it just a convention that makes them comfortable, or does it convey useful information?


Adding the author’s correctly, consistently, probably would be an added source of spelling, formatting and programming error. On the other hand there are numerous hemi-homonyms with names under e.g a fish or a plant. There are seven perfect hemo-homonyms, similar genus and species which cannot be tell apart (without an author unless it was someone like the prolific Linnaeus who worked with plants and animals). These too often are placed under the wrong animal or plants. In addition, with plants we have a convention to indicate when a name are misapplied to a plant not seen by the original author. That leads to curation mistakes that can take time to fix.

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and the holy grail being the chance to get a link to at least the plates depicting the species or - forbidden dream for specialists - the keys. Not sure about copyright issues though.


Botanists expect it as strictly the Author is part of the Scientific Name. It is thus possible to have several identical names that have different authors and thus different species. Knowing the author thus allows one to know which species concept is under consideration.

However, for most users the authors are purely superfluous - as evidenced by the success of authorless names on iNaturalist!
I agree though that it would be nice if there was an author and date field in the iNat dictionary, but I share robert archer’s concern about spelling/punctuation/abbreviations and conventions of the author’s name(s).


alternatively, i really don’t want to see it (despite being more or less a botanist), i find it clutter and furthermore don’t really agree that a person’s name should be attached to a species like that. I don’t have a problem with it as an option but please at least keep it in a discrete text field so it can be excluded when downloading data. I have a database where all the ‘author’ text is included in the ‘scientific name’ field and it is a really irritating database to work with for that reason.


I’d really enjoy seeing this.

I feel like it would just be nice to have somewhere in the about tab on species pages. That way it wouldn’t generate unnecessary data when booting stuff over from inat but still allowing people to see when and by whom a species was described.

For vascular plants at least, this is just a single click away. On the right-hand side of the About tab, click on the IPNI+POWO link. This takes you to the International Plant Names Index listing(s) for that taxon, which in turn provides links to the corresponding POWO (Plants of the World Online) records.

If similar web resources exist for other groups that are not already linked on the About tab, they can easily be added by a curator as a templated (generic) link that will cover all taxa in a group, if they support text-based URL queries.

For some taxa, there can be more than one listing for the same name (illegitimate later homonyms, etc.) that one would have to sort through. This issue, plus the need for ongoing updates and maintenance, would probably make importing and storing taxon authorship within iNaturalist too curatorially burdensome.


Yeah, this. The existence of more-or-less comprehensive species catalogs has rather diminished the importance of having the authority tacked on to the name–at least in plants, it’s relatively rare for authors to accidentally generate homonyms nowadays. But it would be a BIG maintenance burden. My current hobby is getting IPNI to correct authorities (among other things) in their records: ferns are probably somewhat worse off than flowering plants, but there’s an enormous amount of work to be done. (i.e., years of data cleanup being done more-or-less regularly by staffers)

Maybe it’s possible if we have good taxon framework mappings for certain groups and can reliably pull authorities from an external database, but I really, really do not want to duplicate the labor I’m already doing there on an internal framework.


I was actually just creating a post about this very topic. I would very much like to see scientific authors listed somewhere on the taxon page. Not necessarily following the scientific name in the header, but somewhere easily found on the page.

Closing to focus at the existing topic for this requested feature: