This key was developed to aid in the identification of rangeland grasshoppers. Basic knowledge of grasshopper features and terminology is helpful using this key. A glossary with illustrations has been included as a reference.
The key consists of four panes. The left two panes relate to characters and character states (features and states) and the right two panes for the grasshopper species (entities) available in this key.
The top left pane lists the available features and their characters states that are selected during the identification process. The species remaining are displayed in the pane to the top right.
The top left pane displays the list of features available in the key. This listing is reduced when character states above are selected. The removed taxa are displayed in the pane to the bottom right.
The key contains a list of grasshoppers, their features and associated character states. The process of identifiying a grasshopper is done by making character state selections, thus removing grasshoppers from that list that do not match the combination of character states selected. This process of selecting character states continues until the grasshopper (entities) list is reduced to a short list of possibilities, and in most cases, down to a single grasshopper.
There are basically two methods for selecting character states, Image Selection Method and Textual Selection Method. You can switch between either method anytime during the identification process.
Image selection method - novice users
A group of character states are displayed as images by clicking on the "+" icon next to any character listed in the top right pane. Each image represents a single character state. Character state selection is made by left-clicking the appropriate state image.
Textual selection method - experienced users
Character states descriptions are displayed as an indented list under each feature when it is expanded. Character state selection is made by double-clicking anywhere on the text of the character state.
Start by selecting character states in any order you wish. If you're not sure about a particular character, then try selecting a different feature that you're more confident about. You are not required to select character states in any particular order. Continue the selection process until the list of remaining taxa in the bottom right pane is reduce as much as possible. The goal is to reduce this list to a single taxa without guessing character states.
If you select the wrong character state by mistake, just remove it by left-clicking.
Depending on your experience with grasshoppers, you might not be able to confidently select enough character states to reduce the list of remaining taxa to a single species. If this happens, you can use the attached fact sheets and images to continue and complete the identification process.
During the identification process, it is possible to end up with an empty list of taxa remaining for the combination of character state selected. When this happens, one of the following situations has occurred: