And six for Haliclona digitata, and five for Ichneumon varius. A couple of the duplicate entries are synonyms for other species, which is understandable, but most are the "accepted name". Shouldn't there just be one Pimpinella dioica? By my count there are 3068 species with two or more "accepted name" entries in the 2014 database. Where do these duplicate entries originate? Do they serve a purpose or are they errors?

Probably a question for catalogueoflife.org forums, but they don't seem to have any discussion area, so seeing if anyone here can answer.


2 Answers 2


While any large database may have errors that can lead to multiple entries (sensu har-wradim's answer), I think most of the multiple entries detail the taxonomic history associated with that species. Your link to the sponge Haliclona digitata provides a clear example. First, dismiss the H. digitata (Schmidt, 1862) entry. As clearly stated, it is a synonym for a different species of sponge, Tedania anhelans.

The remaining entries are all links to various homonyms of H. digitata. Skimming through the World Porifera Database entries (via the "Online resource" links), provides the necessary information. Lendenfeld's use of Chalinorhaphis is the original description. It is the senior homonym, meaning the specific epithet (digitata) has precedence over junior names. The junior names include Adocia digitata (Baer) and Gellius digitatus (Koltun). It was probably Tanita & Hoshino that transfered digitata to the genus Haliclona but I cannot verify this without seeing the article.

The taxonomic history can also be tracked for Ichneumon varius, but the linked databases don't hvae as much detail as the Porifera database for H. digitata. Still, it suggests that the description by Pontoppidan in 1763 is the senior homonym, and the subsequent uses by Cuvier, Gmelin and Muller are junior homonyms.

This is also what I think har-wradim is alluding to for Pimpinella dioica. Unfortunately, the Umbellifer database seems to have little detail in this regard.

The Catalogue of Life provides a convenient mechanims to begin a thorough search for the taxonomic history of a species.


This is because Catalogue of life is a database created and maintained via consulting other, taxonomically narrower databases. This leads to propagation of the original inaccuracies and introduction of new ones during the process of data transfer.

In the case of Pimpinella dioica, for example, the information was imported from the World Umbellifer Database. If you search there for "Pimpinella dioica" you get a list of names, only one of which is explicitly labeled as synonym (by Linné, the same one as in CoL). CoL interpreted this situation as if others were accepted as valid, BUT this was not the case: all other records are marked as "provisional" and most of them actually contain information about probable synonymy in "Comments".

Moreover, in the description of World Umbellifer Database the one can learn, that the database guarantees accuracy principally for generic names only.


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